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Conclusion

Memoright SSDs: The End of Hard Drives?
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The benchmark results for the Memoright flash SSDs (we used four 32-GB models MR25.2-032S) speak for themselves. A sequential throughput of 115 MB/s is a new record for flash-based drives, and Memoright even managed to sustain almost the same throughput for write operations as well. I/O performance is stellar and the drive’s power consumption is lower than the power requirements of the direct competitor, the Mtron Flash SSD. The only benchmark sections where it cannot beat everything else is the PCMark05 Windows XP startup benchmark and the IOmeter Webserver benchmark. In every other test, Memoright slaps the other drive manufacturers in the face by providing bone-crushing storage performance. Server administrators should especially study the benchmark results carefully, as we’re talking about many hundreds to thousands of I/O operations per second on an individual drive.

Memoright’s Flash SSDs are also very RAID-friendly, as they worked properly with an Adaptec RAID 5805. We decided to use four Memoright flash SSDs to compare against four Seagate Savvio 10K.2 drives and four Western Digital Raptor WD1500 drives – all in RAID 0, so we could determine the absolute maximum performance. The result didn’t come as a surprise, but it still was an eye opener: The Memoright drives are significantly superior providing multiple times better I/O performance and up to 50% more throughput for streaming applications.

Clearly, this Flash SSD is the best system hard drive you can possible use. But it has one major disadvantage, which is its price point. A capacity of 32 GB costs as much as $1,000 and the higher capacity versions, which would be very nice to have, are even more expensive. Although the 128-GB model provides the best cost per gigabyte ratio, all these drives are way too expensive. Most users would not even spend $1,000 on their entire PC. If you can live with the fact that these drives will probably cost half of today’s cost or maybe only a third by the end of this year, then you can go for it, as you can be sure to get the very best hard drive available.

The transition from conventional HDDs to Flash SSDs has begun, as these results are convincing enough to make decision makers rethink their storage media strategies. If fast throughput rates are especially critical for a particular enterprise’s datacenter, for example, then the high costs required to invest in high-performance SSDs can make sense. It’s clear that 15,000 RPM hard drives will be among the first victims, as I’d rather go for a small-and-fast flash SSD plus a large storage drive instead of a single, medium capacity 15k SAS drive for a server.

But all of this will remain in the high-end or enterprise segment for the time being, as it won’t be possible to replace all 500 million hard drives sold in 2007, or even only all server and system drive with flash-based hard drives for another very simple reason: According to Western Digital, all the flash production sites in the world aren’t sufficient to produce enough memory to replace that of traditional hard drives. Hence, we will have to wait for further improvements in flash memory density and affordable 100+ GB flash drives to drop below $500 before they enter the mainstream.

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