Inside Extreme Scale Tech|Saturday, December 27, 2014
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Is It Time To Switch To Solid State Drives? 

It would seem like a no-brainer. Solid state drives are more efficient. They have no moving parts. They don’t have to spin a disk 24 hours a day just in case a job suddenly needs some data from them. Hard disk drives represent one of the wasteful energy sinks that keep about 90% of the energy coming into a data center from ever being used to actually crunch data. So when Samsung hosted a CIO forum in Silicon Valley on November 1 in order to introduce two new SSDs it promoted them as the future of data center efficiency.

That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to run out and buy the latest devices. In an article at eWeek, Robert Mullins throws a little rain on Samsung’s parade by noting that there could very well be a shakeout coming in the SSD business.

Samsung pointed out all the good news. The SM843 and SM1625 flash memory drives are better, faster, and less power hungry than their predecessors. Other companies at the forum also touted the TCO advantages of solid state drives. Dileep Bhandarkar, Microsoft chief architect for global foundation services, was on hand to testify that installing SSDs at a data center improved performance by 30 percent while only increasing costs by 10 percent. And they prolong the life of servers.

 Nevertheless Joseph Unsworth, a Gartner analyst who participated in the CIO Forum tossed some caveats into the article. Sure, prices are dropping and the market is growing, but there are so many players that consolidation is inevitable as companies are bought or go out of business. That raised the question: Will buyers end up with obsolescent technology with no one around to honor warranties? Also, SSD is best when used for “read-intensive” apps running in a random I/O environment. Other types of jobs that don’t require so much access to memory might not use the devices’ full potential.

Still, it’s an inevitable march—from tape to disk to chip. As old equipment gets replaced and new data centers are being built, SSDs will be commonplace in energy-efficient data center. If you buy, just remember to beware from whom you buy.

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