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If You Don’t Have Solid-State Drives, You’re Missing Out

Even though everyone in the IT industry admits that solid-state drives (SSDs) have superior performance, many IT buyers still refuse to put SSDs in their servers. These traditionalists are worried that SSDs don’t have the durability to handle server workloads. They are concerned that this unproven technology is going to result in premature drive failure or that the number of unknowns is still too high, making it risky to opt for SSDs in a production environment.

These fears were not unfounded back when SSDs were a newer technology in the late 2000’s. Nowadays, everyone has an SSD in their laptop, tablet, and phone, and the days of this technology being an absolute unknown variable have passed. Modern SSDs have a completely different set of performance characteristics, and should be considered in the server and storage environment. Let’s take a look at why SSDs should be considered for these environments.

SSDs Increase Server & Storage Performance

The perpetual limitation to storage performance remains the traffic jam between the host system and storage media. The challenge is to open the congestion point by increasing the speed of the storage interface while providing a cost-effective path to easy scaling in the future. SSDs have up to 100 times greater throughput and nearly instantaneous access compared to traditional storage media. This translates into quicker bootups, faster file transfers, and better overall performance, which also equates to less waiting time at start-up and when opening files or applications. SSDs help open traffic flow thus increasing server and storage performance.

SSDs Increase Server & Storage Cost-Efficiency

Since SSDs do not have any moving parts, they consume less energy than hard disk drives (HDDs), produce less heat, and require less cooling. Because of this, SSDs bring long-term energy savings. While price per capacity is still a little higher than other alternatives, the benefits far outweigh the costs. SSDs offer cost savings in the long run for businesses with lower energy usage and greater productivity with higher I/O. Now thanks to better pricing, a new approach to data center server architecture is economically accessible. This delivers a cost-effective approach, while helping ensure significant energy savings.

SSDs Improve Durability

SSDs eliminate the mechanical parts found in traditional HDDs with a non-moving circuit board design. Without moving parts, SSDs suffer fewer failures and are rated for over a million hours of operating time. However, there are limits to the durability of SSDs. A block can be written on a flash chip typically no more than 10,000 to 100,000 times, depending on the type of chip. One way to make sure that all blocks are used in a balanced way is a process called ‘wear leveling’ where the idea is to write to the block that has been used least. Another strategy is to provide overhead capacity sufficient to replace defective blocks. Durability equates to fewer hardware problems and fewer repairs down the road.

SSDs Increase Server Reliability

Overall, SSDs are more reliable than HDDs because they have no mechanical parts. Additionally, flash-based PCIe memory enhances the reliability of your server by removing potential failure points. Since this storage type couples directly to the server’s PCIe bus, it removes possible breaks at the controller, backplane, cabling, or network level. When it comes to reliability, many industry experts speculate that today’s SSDs will outlive the lifespan of many of the devices they power.

SSDs Improve Server Power

SSDs show a reduction in power usage as they use significantly less wattage at peak loads than HDDs. This benefit decreases the power strain on systems and thus changes the server power footprint overall. Additionally, because this storage type can reduce the number of storage arrays in production, a lower KW per square foot rating can be applied to the storage infrastructure. As an energy-efficient storage upgrade, SSDs require very little power to operate, translating into significantly less heat output by your system.

Conclusion

With a plethora of applications and benefits, SSDs are smart investments for data centers or businesses looking to maximize performance, reduce costs, and improve overall operational flow. These benefits open up new possibilities for intensive applications running on vast servers and storage systems in data centers and server rooms. As it is with any storage environment, the ideal infrastructure varies on a case-by-case basis. If storing massive amounts of rarely accessed data is the primary goal of a data center, SSDs would not be a necessary investment, but if performance is the primary goal, then SSDs would be a viable solution.

To learn more about SSDs, take a look at our webinar recording, "Solid-State Drive Applications & Benefits" or browse the slides below.



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