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SSDs Release More CO2 Than Hard Drives: Study Claims

As SSDs become more and more indispensable for their speed advantages over standard HDDs, a new study claims that these drives composed of solid-state semiconductor memories would be worse for the computer.

If an SSD instead of a traditional hard drive in your computer has countless benefits, from energy efficiency to faster boot times, SSDs would have a greater impact on the environment because of their significantly larger carbon footprint than hard drives.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of British Columbia recently published a study claiming that solid-state hard drives, better known as SSDs, can lead to twice the carbon footprint of traditional hard drives. The study analyzes the carbon impact of various devices and components over their lifetime.

SSDs are faster, but worse for the planet

The researchers found by analyzing the results of other studies assessing the environmental footprint of SSDs that they have a much higher intrinsic factor (SEF) than an HDD, with a an average of 0.16 for SSDs and only 0.02 for HDDs. SEF refers to the ratio between CO2 emissions and total storage capacity. According to the study, SSD hard drives produce the highest emissions of any component in systems in which they are incorporated, or 38% of a PC’s total emissions.

In comparison, a hard drive can account for about 9% of a system’s emissions, a GPU 11%, a CPU 4%, a motherboard 17%, RAM 9%, a PSU 4%, and a frame 6%. The manufacturing process of SSDs certainly plays the most important role in this. Manufacturing every part of an SSD, be it NAND chips, DRAM, or controllers, is expensive, both electrically and materially.

Like a memory, SSD production requires much more carbon, which is bad news for the environment, as SSDs dominate the current market. They eventually sought a comparison between an HDD and an SSD with a storage capacity of 1TB over a period of five and ten years. The researchers concluded that while the power consumption of SSDs was significantly lower (56.9 kWh for an SSD over five years of use versus 183.9 kWh for an HDD), the combined CO2 emissions were significantly lower over the same period.

In reality, an SSD would emit 184 kg of CO2 in 5 years, while a hard drive of the same capacity emits only 99.6 kg. The study concludes that the lifespan of SSDs needs to be further improved in order to compensate for the high emissions during production in the long term. Its use does not necessarily have to be banned because it already reduces the power consumption of your computers. Our SSDs may soon become even more efficient.

Source: Swamit Tannu / Prashant J Nai

Brain Curry

Brian is the news author at Research Snipers which mainly covers Technology News, Microsoft News, Google News, Facebook, Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi, and other tech news.

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