The random or transactional (IOPS) performance of spinning drives is dominated by the access time, which, in turn is determined by rotational latency and seek time. Interface performance has almost no influence on IOPS, except in the negative sense that complex or new interfaces sometimes have bloated or immature driver stacks that can hurt IOPS. Highly random applications that benefit from high IOPS drives include email servers, databases and hypervisor environments.
Sequential performance, which is important for applications like video and D2D backups, is dominated by the RPM of the drive times the bits per cylinder. This number will decrease 50 percent or more as the drive moves from the outermost to the innermost cylinders. Again, as long as the interface is fast enough to keep up (and it is in all modern hard drives), the interface speed (or even the quantity of interface ports) has no measurable effect on sustained performance. The fastest drives today can sustain less than 200 MB/s, which is less than the performance of a single 3 GB SATA port.
With a variety of storage devices available today, it can be difficult to match drives with data types and data center environments. You have to consider factors such as random access performance, sequential performance, cost, density and reliability, and often more. With so many considerations, market hype could steer you toward a fad. Gary Watson, chief technology officer at Nexsan, outlines five best practices to consider when selecting drives for your storage deployment to ensure the best price and performance for your needs.
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