SSDs Gaining on the Enterprise

Arthur Cole

Momentum is gaining behind solid state drive (SSD) technology, with the newest systems making strides in both transfer speed and capacity to the point that they are making a serious run for the enterprise.


The latest advance comes from BitMicro, which just released the 1.6 TB Altima E3S320. The 3.5-inch drive offers SCSI connectivity capable of a sustained transfer rate of 320 MBps on a single-level cell NAND flash design. The drive is expected to be available by the third quarter, aimed primarily at military, enterprise and industrial applications.


The new Altima comes only a few weeks after Texas Memory Systems hit new speed benchmarks with its RamSan-40 SSD. The device exceeded 290,000 IOPS under SPC-1 benchmarks. The company also claims to have hit a new price-performance level of $0.67 per IOPS.


These new benchmarks are coming at a time when demand for SSDs is increasing. Driven largely by mobile and laptop demands, the market is expected to leap from $23 million in 2007 to more than $5.6 billion in 2011, according to research house iSuppli. And even while capacities increase, price per drive is expected to drop from around $250 today to about $100 in 2011.


Still, not everyone is enamored by solid state's price/performance. New MacBook Air users, for example, are reporting only marginal results from the flash version of the notebook, which nearly doubles the price. Among the chief complaints: longer boot up, slower write speeds and a surprisingly shorter battery life.


Talk of SSDs "taking over" the enterprise is clearly premature. But it's hard to deny that the technology is robust enough for heavy data environments. And for a technology originally intended for cell phones and ultralight mobile devices, that's pretty impressive.

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