Solid state drives (SSDs) are becoming more important in the server world. Not only are there significant performance gains compared to hard drives, but the price and capacity are becoming feasible for an increasing number of companies. While spinning disks are still cheaper and larger capacity, the gap is shrinking. The past two weeks have seen two interesting announcements, and this is going to help SSDs get even more traction in the server market, and maybe even help out regular consumers.
Earlier this week, Intel announced a new server-class SSD called the DC S3700 Series. It’s a pretty amazing chunk of technology when you compare it to the previous generation, the 710 Series. Not only does its capacity go all the way up to 800GB, but it’s also amazingly fast.
When reading sequential data, the drive can reach speeds of up to 500MB/s. When you look at random reading performance, it’s capable of 75,000 Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS). Its total number of writes has even doubled since the last generation, and that’s still not the biggest news. Most impressively, this new generation of drive slashes pound-per-gigabyte cost by 40 per cent over Intel’s previous offerings. That alone is enough to cause some raised eyebrows.
Samsung also has skin in the game. Last week, it announced a new server-class SSD with some similarly impressive specs. Samsung’s SM1625 can see sequential read speeds of 848MB/s and random reads of 101,000 IOPS. Drive capacity is very similar to Intel’s offerings: 100GB to 800GB. Interestingly, this model also includes super capacitors. If there is data being written during a power loss, this very cool technology is there to prevent it from being lost.
Western Digital’s Green hard drives, presented as a best-in-class in power consumption for HDDs, use 6 Watts while reading or writing and 5.5 Watts while idle. In comparison, the typical results for Intel’s latest SSDs is the same 6 Watts while reading or writing, but only 0.65 Watts when idle. That might not mean much for one hard drive in your desktop, but that kind of difference is pretty drastic when you have a whole server farm packed with drives. Power efficiency really does help offset a non-trivial part of the increased cost of spinning disks.
What we’re seeing in this latest generation of drives is more than just performance improvements. Increased lifespans, data protection, and reliability are key aspects of server-class drives. Without much worry, server administrators can now get the performance benefits of SSDs without the drive’s potential failure looming over their heads.
Cheaper consumer drives haven’t seen these benefits yet, but this clever engineering will undoubtedly work its way down market. In a year or two, middle of the road drives bought for your laptop or desktop will have these same benefits, and that is really going to start turning heads.
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