The storage period varies. We are used to using hard disk drives (HDDs) and many of us now have solid state drives (SSDs). But what is an electronic multimedia card (eMMC) and why do we see it in laptops instead of SSDs and HDDs?
We already know that SSDs generally outperform hard drives, so let’s focus on comparing eMMC versus SSDs and their strengths and weaknesses.
What is an SSD?
In case you’re not in the know, a solid state drive is a fully electronic long-term storage component. The simplest explanation for a solid state is that there are no moving parts. Technically speaking, solid state electronics is electronics that use semiconductors.
No moving parts means no friction, which reduces wear. It also means that data moves faster, as there is no need to wait for the platters to rotate and the read / write lever to move to the desired data.
SSDs come in three laptop form factors; 2.5 ” enclosure like hard drive, mSATA, which looks like a card, and M2, which looks like RAM.
What is eMMC?
At first glance, it seems like eMMC is a type of solid state drive. It has no moving parts and is quite fast.
A big key to understanding the nature of eMMC is part of the multimedia card name. If that makes you think about SD or microSD cards, you’re thinking in the right direction. In fact, this is eMMC.
EMMC and SD cards are built to the same basic standard and work on the same principles. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you probably have an eMMC device.
What is the difference then?
We’ve already touched on the fact that they come in different form factors and physical sizes. We also saw that SSDs are easy to remove and replace, but the eMMC is soldered to the motherboard. If you needed to replace it, you are probably better off buying another laptop.
Right now, the largest eMMC capacity available is just 128GB. eMMC is a type of storage used in smartphones and is therefore limited to 128GB. If you ever see a 1TB eMMC listed, know that TB stands for terabits and TB stands for terabytes. Terabit is about 125 GB. A terabyte is 1000 GB. Understanding storage sizes is very important.
The largest SSD available is 60TB, and it seems to be growing every month. eMMC will likely grow in size too, but it will take a long time to catch up with SSDs.
eMMC vs. SSD: Performance Differences
If we were to open an SSD, you would see several chips that look like SD cards. These chips can only perform a certain number of read / write operations. Having multiple chips to work balances the read / write operations, so each chip lasts longer, which means the entire SSD will last longer.
If you opened the eMMC, you will see that there is only one chip in it. Thus, all read / write operations fall into only one chip. Of course, this means it will have a shorter lifespan than an SSD of the same capacity.
The key component of SSD and eMMC chips is the NAND gateway. What’s important to know about NAND gates is that they can be viewed as real gates. Since eMMC is a single chip, it only has a certain number of gates, while an SSD has multiple chips, so it has a lot more gates.
Think of the eMMC NAND gate as a single-lane road with a toll booth, and the SSD as a 16-lane highway with multiple toll booths. With the same amount of traffic, the SSD always wins.
eMMC vs. SSD: Cost Difference
It’s not hard to see that an eMMC laptop is a lot cheaper than a laptop with solid state drive. The difference is usually several hundred dollars. This is partly due to the fact that an SSD has more parts and is more expensive to manufacture.
We’ll also find that a laptop with an SSD will also have other higher-end components like improved video and more RAM. A person who needs an SSD drive will usually use this laptop for more than just Facebook and shopping. They want a more durable laptop than most eMMC-equipped ones. This accounts for most of the cost difference.
What’s the best? SSD or eMMC?
It depends on your needs.
If you need an inexpensive laptop, store your data in the cloud, and your data stored on the laptop is not critical, then an eMMC laptop might be the best option. An eMMC laptop is great for everyday use. This is good for the average student who only writes reports and browses the web a little. They can be a good secondary laptop or tablet replacement.
If you need a laptop with large, reliable, local storage and fast access to data, then a laptop with solid state drives may be the best option. Of course, it will cost more. This is the right way for a basic laptop with heavier workloads like coding, gaming, design, or multitasking.