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The Rise of SSDs

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Sun recently announced that they will be putting solid state disks into all of their server and storage range of hardware. EMC already have solid state drives for DMX-4, which was announced in January this year. EMC have also stated that they think SSDs will reach a price parity with high end FC drives by 2010.

All of a sudden (and I’m sure plenty of people will claim it isn’t sudden) solid state disks are all the rage. For servers, I can see the logic. It’s another step in keeping the power and cooling demands of servers down; it also extends primary memory further and will definitely increase performance.

But what about storage arrays? I can see the benefit of putting a tier of SSD drives into DMX arrays, especially in the way EMC have chosen to implement it. It allows those targeted applications to get the performance they require at a manageable price point without a drastic reconfiguration of the array. But an entire array of SSD? That’s just the same as existing products like Tera-RamSan.

If SSD prices are driven down, then surely so will the price of standard hard drives. HDD manufacturers aren’t going to lie down and let solid state take away their business. We’ve seen their response already with Seagate taking STEC to court over patent infringements.

So where will it end? Well, tape didn’t go away as many forecast it would. I don’t see spinning drives going away any time soon either. What I’d like to see is the rise of intelligent storage systems that learn the busy and quiet blocks and move the data between SSD and HDD to keep optimal performance. Meantime, HDD prices will continue to fall and the battle will be between cheap (but fast) HDDs and balancing their cost against the power/cooling they need.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
  • Mag

    Could you suggest me research topic or direction in storage area network,please? I’m mostly interested in AoE based solutions. Thanks

  • Chris M Evans

    Mag,

    Why AoE? This is quite a niche product.

  • DCed

    Chris,

    And when you analyse SSD in the so called Green it perspective.

    No spinning disks, reduce power consumption, smaller form factor (?) so less foot print in a DC room. I think this is a good enabler to leverage a green it strategy.

  • Chris M Evans

    DCed, exactly. The potential saving from using SSD have to be weighed against the reduced cost of “traditional” drives.

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