What’s the Difference Between eMMC and SSD?

If you are looking for a new Windows laptop or tablet, you probably noticed that some models use weird storage type called eMMC. It is not so common as an SSD or HDD and has some serious differences. The speed and performance of a computer depend on a storage type you choose and that is why you need to understand the difference between eMMC and SSD.

eMMC vs SSD

eMMC memory (also called flash storage) is not something new to the market. This technology is quite old. There was an MMC-storage long before the SD cards. It still exists but in a different form. eMMC stands for the embedded multimedia card. In a nutshell, eMMC is a memory card, soldered on a motherboard. In contrast to the ordinary memory card, you can’t remove eMMC storage or upgrade it. There are some very rare cases when eMMC storage is just a microSD card connected to the motherboard inside the computer. This is your only chance to upgrade an eMMC storage, but odds are very low that you will find such a PC.

Most of the time OEM use eMMC storage to reduce production costs and offer a relatively decent device for a lower price. eMMC storage uses NAND memory. You can also find this memory type inside USB sticks, SD cards, and other inexpensive drives. The USB stick has a memory chip, a simple controller (there is no need in sophisticated firmware) and a USB plug. eMMC is basically the same, excluding the interface. All this make eMMC quite inexpensive and simple. In addition, simplicity and a way how eMMC works, give this memory type far longer life cycle. Your PC will rot ten times, but storage will be still kicking.

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SSD stands for solid state drive. It is similar (uses basically the same NAND chips to store data), yet very different kind of storage. First, SSD has far more memory chips of much higher quality/capacity. As a result, better speed and better performance. Second, SSD has a controller with a special firmware that provides additional features. For example, the SSD controller spreads I/O operations evenly among all memory chips. It is like a RAID configuration, but instead of hard drives, you have NAND memory chips. When you copy a large file to an SSD, controller copies pieces of data to multiple chips at once.

eMMC vs SSD

In addition, SSD drives are connected to the motherboard using a faster interface (SATA, mSATA or PCIe). Even though eMMC is soldered on a motherboard, bandwidth is very limited. It doesn’t mean that eMMC is bad storage, though. Quite opposite. Using eMMC allows to seriously reduce the cost of a device and avoid using old-fashioned HDD. That’s a win situation for those on tight budget.

Here is another benefit of SSD in an SSD vs eMMC battle. Computers with eMMC memory have very small storage space. Usually, it is something between 16 and 128 GB. Meanwhile, SSD drives reach as high as a couple terabytes. But again, small storage is not always something bad. There is no need in large eMMC drives because of the way how this memory works. It is made for inexpensive devices with small storage. Moreover, eMMC works better with small files. Big eMMC storage inside a computer simply makes no sense.

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Despite some disadvantages comparing to SSD, there is nothing wrong with eMMC, just like there is nothing wrong with HDD. It does what it should, but like with any other compromise solution made to reduce costs, you will have to deal with some serious limitation of capacity, performance, upgradability, etc. Even the fastest eMMC works far slower than the slowest and cheapest SSD drive.

Flash Storage vs Solid State: What to Choose?

The first thing you need to consider comparing eMMC vs SSD is a price. If you can’t afford a PC with a spinning drive or a solid-state drive, go for eMMC. Second, think carefully about your current and future needs. You will have no way to upgrade eMMC storage inside a computer, while PCs with SSD or HDD allow you to swap old storage and replace it with a better one.

If you decided to buy a PC with eMMC drive, we recommend you read or watch reviews and check the storage speed because there are different eMMC memory with higher or lower speed.

eMMC pros:

  • Inexpensive.
  • Reliable.
  • Compact and does not require a lot of space inside a PC thus more space for other components (battery, for example).

eMMC cons:

  • Small capacity (rarely up to 128 GB).
  • Relatively slow.
  • No upgradability.

That’s it. We hope you will find the best choice for the money you have!

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