More Muscle for HDDs

Arthur Cole

Solid-state disks (SSDs) may have much of the momentum going into the next enterprise refresh cycle, but a series of developments on the hard disk side indicates that organizations with continue with mixed environments for some time.

New HDDs from Seagate and Toshiba offer greater capacities and lower capital and operational costs compared with previous generations, leading experts to conclude that HDDs will continue to have the edge when it comes to low-I/O, bulk storage applications.

Seagate's Savvio 10K.4 doubles the capacity of its small-form HDD line from 300 GB to 600 GB, even while it bumps up MBTF to 2 million hours and adds Fibre Channel or 6 Gbps SAS connectivity, enhanced data-protection features and power-saving idle capabilities. Plus, as a 10,000 rpm drive on a 2.5-inch form factor, enterprises will be able to pack more storage with a lower active power-consumption rate than with current 15k 3.5-inch drives.

Toshiba hit most of those same marks with its new 2.5-inch drive. It, too, increases capacity to 600 GB and comes with self-encrypting features tied to a 6 Gbps SAS interface. The company claims it can cut power consumption some 28 percent with a variable-speed function that draws back the 10k spin rate during inactive periods. It hopes to see the drive built into everything from mid-range volume servers and storage arrays to blades and rack-mount systems.

The question for enterprises, then, is not whether to continue investing in HDDs, but how best to deploy them. Clearly, the I/O factor will be a key determinant here. As IDC's John Rydning points out, any current HDDs that are being short-stroked or where data is striped across multiple disks are ripe for a change to SSDs merely due to the extraordinary inefficiency and wasted storage capacity that these techniques entail. But since both capacity and throughput are increasing on HDDs, they still are the most cost-effective solution for low-speed, high-data applications.

Multiple data tiers are nothing new to the enterprise, of course. And the good news is that the latest generation of storage-management software has incorporated SSD functionality into their feature sets, so incorporating them is usually a simple drive-swap.

Ideally, the goal is to make the type of storage being used completely transparent to the user -- a job that becomes a little easier with both high-speed SSDs and high-capacity HDDs in the mix.

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