SSDs: A Key Player in Virtual, Cloud Environments

Arthur Cole

Solid-state disks (SSDs) are quickly entering the enterprise mainstream, but at the same time they are demonstrating increasingly diverse designs intended to meet the ever more divergent needs of modern storage architectures.

But while the details may vary from one device to the next, two trends are universal: Costs are coming down and both speed and capacity are going up.

For instance, Smart Storage Systems has a new MLC (multi-level cell) device built on a 19 nm process that provides up to 2 TB in a standard 2.5-inch form factor. The Optimus Eco provides 6 Gbps SAS connectivity and is backed by the company’s Guardian Technology Platform that provides improved endurance for up to 10 drive writes per day (DWPD). At the same time, the drive provides sustained read/write performance of 500/500 MBps and up to 100k/45k IOPS.

Samsung has the new SM843T, which the company has pegged for high-performance environments such as Big Data analytics. The device tops out at 960 GB, but provides SATA 6.0 connectivity and an enhanced reliability feature that preserves hot data in the event of a power loss. The drive provides 98,000 sustained read IOPS and upwards of 20,000 Terabytes Written (TBW). The company says it can deliver a six-fold performance enhancement over standard hard disk drives and a 30 percent cut in energy consumption.

Other devices seek to leverage the PCIe interface to provide greater deployment versatility for applications like high-speed caching, web acceleration and web transactions. Micron’s P420m is a 25 nm drive that is available in either a half-height, half-length (HHHL) PCIe model or a standard 2.5-inch form factor. Capacities range from 350 GB to 1.4 TB, and PCIe connectivity provides up to 750k IOPS and 3 GBps sequential read performance.

And from Seagate, the new 600 Pro and 1200 models optimized for high speed and high data integrity performance. The 600 Pro (the companion drive to the 600 laptop model) is aimed at hyperscale data environments, cloud architectures and highly virtualized data centers. It provides up to 480 GB in a 2.5-inch form factor and is outfitted with a 6 Gbps SATA interface. Using only 2.8 watts under typical loads and supplemented by a variable power function that lessens the draw under lighter loads, the device is said to offer the lowest IOPS/watt ratio on the market. Meanwhile, the 1200 drive is outfitted with a 12 Gbps SAS interface and ranges up to 800 GB. It is also bolstered with advanced algorithms to boost read/write performance through data prioritization and is available in either 2.5- or 1.8-inch designs.

The debate still rages as to whether an SSD or a card-level or even board-level flash module is the best approach to solid-state storage in the enterprise. In all likelihood, most organizations will utilize a variety of solutions: adding on-server flash where needed and swapping out existing disk drives where necessary.

One thing is certain, though, solid state will be a crucial enabling technology as the enterprise embraces virtualization and software-defined storage and networking in the quest to make the data center more responsive to an increasingly sophisticated and demanding workforce.

And with every passing season, solid state becomes cheaper and easier to implement.

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