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PCs as a solid-state device

We hit the power button on the TV and within a few seconds the set is on and ready for viewing. Why doesnt a computer work the same way? After all, it is a solid-state device built with technology similar to a television. Or is it? The biggest reason a modern personal computer takes longer to come on than a modern television lies in the long-time design of PCs. The design calls for a hard drive with spinning magnetic platters that hold the all-important operating system. When we hit the power button on the PC, a series of events take place, which lead to the system taking a copy of the operating system from the hard drive and placing it into memory. At a certain point the display is initialized and the PC is ready to go. The PC is mostly a solid-state device but the hard drive design (and optical drives for that matter) prevent it from being completely solid-state. Thats changing now with the introduction of solid-state hard drives. SSDs are hitting the market now with the same technology that some of us carry around on our key chains. What Im referring to is a flash drive (thumb drive, jump drive they have many names). By applying flash drive technology to a hard drive, the spinning magnetic platter arrangement, with its significant data transfer time, is gone and replaced by the near instantaneous data transfer that flash memory provides. It also adds another solid-state device, with no moving parts, to the PC. With SSDs in place Microsoft and others can focus on developing the next generation operating system that use the technology. PCs in that era will power on as quickly as todays televisions and provide a better over-all computing experience. Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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