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Technical Perspective: Opening the Door to SSD Algorithmics

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Solid-state drives (SSDS) have revolutionized the world of non-volatile storage over the past decade. Indeed, SSDs have found their way into every nook and cranny of computing—from cell phones to powerful servers deployed in cloud datacenters. A reason for the rising popularity of SSDs is that they are faster and consume less energy than their older rivals, hard disk drives (HDDs).

Why should an algorithm designer care about the emerging dominance of SSDs? Historically, new types of computer hardware have seldom required new models of computation or new algorithmic paradigms. Much of algorithmic science uses models that are hardware independent. An enduring example is the random-access machine (RAM) that models an abstract computer that can read or write any cell in its unbounded memory in constant time. Traditionally, the RAM and related models have freed the algorithm designer from worrying about the nitty-gritty details of the underlying computer hardware.


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