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How Do SSDs Redefine Storage Performance?

How Do SSDs Redefine Storage Performance?
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It only takes one or two modern SSDs to outperform business-class RAID arrays with four or eight hard drives. We're running a full comparison and looking at the implications for high-performance systems when you make the transition to flash-based tech.

Hardly a week goes by without some new SSD product release, and the market remains in a rather volatile state, both despite and because of this continuing growth. Solid state drives come and go, but there are a precious few, such as Intel, that deservedly stick around.

Similarly, controller vendors, including JMicron, Indilinx, and SandForce, have been making impressive progress.

Hard drive manufacturers Toshiba and Western Digital offer SSDs, although these still lack a bit of punch.

One of the latest products is Samsung’s 470-series, the first toggle mode DDR-based flash SSD drive. It increases performance through the same double data rate memory technology that many of you are familiar with from PC main memory. That struck us as reason enough to grab two of these SSDs and put them up against a serious RAID array with 15 000 RPM enterprise hard drives.

Just How Fast Are SSDs?

That SSDs can beat the pants off hard drives isn’t exactly news anymore. Tech enthusiasts and IT personnel also understand the value of 200+ MB/s performance, low power consumption, and physical robustness along with the potential pitfalls of older operating systems. Real tech addicts will go into the nitty gritty of I/O performance, power efficiency, and architectural details on caching, wear leveling, TRIM, and RAID support. These details can make a significant difference on the performance side of storage.

Samsung’s new 470-series SSDs serve as perfect candidates for a shootout between SSDs and serious hard drive RAID arrays because the drives represent the latest technology in PC flash storage products. You won’t find performance comparison with other SSDs in this article; for that, check out our most recent SSD roundup.

In this article, we compare two Samsung 256 GB SSDs against four and eight Fujitsu MBA3147RC 15 000 RPM enterprise hard drives using an enterprise-class SAS RAID controller. All setups utilize RAID 0 to maximize performance.

Display all 6 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    Redsnake77 , 16 November 2010 20:56
    Good article, but what long term effect does lack of TRIM support in a raid array of SSD drives have?
  • 1 Hide
    dillyflump , 17 November 2010 00:15
    Hmm reading through this article sort of made me think. Why does the memory in SSD's have a limitation on how many write cycles there are on any given area. We don't see this issue with dynamic pc RAM. Another thing I noticed in the article is DDR memory in the new SSD's, surely this memory isn't much different to current RAM chips, except it's ROM and holds onto the data and doesn't erase it on powering off. Why didn't they release it as DDR3 the same as current RAM, or are manufacturers trying to make more money by releasing it in stages as they did with SDR, DDR, DDR2 and now DDR3 modules.
  • 0 Hide
    aje21 , 17 November 2010 21:49
    I'm not sure dillyflump understands the difference between volatile and non-volatile memory. Time to read a primer on computer memory types perhaps?
  • -1 Hide
    chechak , 19 November 2010 05:18
    SSD + WIN8 = Future :D 
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , 29 November 2010 14:16
    My obsolete 1TB blacks in 4x1TB RAID 0 configuration beat the most performance-boosted SSD in R/W at the same cost or cheaper. 3x2TB blacks also beat it and 2x2TB blacks come almost even. What's in it for me ? Dozen of times the capacity for the same price/performance. So I'll pass on the SSDs.
  • 0 Hide
    dizzy_davidh , 24 July 2011 22:41
    When it comes to the enterprise environment large corps are tied to what their server provider uses (HP, Dell etc.) If their servers are built around HDD and not SSD then you go with what they offer and most imortantly support. I haven't yet spoken to a corporate server admin or data centre tech who is willing to risk their business on SSDs but that doesn't mean to say that they wouldn't like to use SSDs for their obvious advantages.

    There is a still very much a defined role for SSDs versus HHDs, 'horses for courses' if you will. When it comes to raw read speeds SSDs can do wonders in a Web server or other 'read-intensive' application but when it comes to continuous writes their speed can degrade pretty fast and in my experience can't provide the sustained speeds required with constant read\write operations you'd associate with real world application's such as heavy transation systems and robust data storage most often used by the enterprise environments.

    It's fair enoough that this article compares the two hardware types in a non-enterprise environment but it is a bit much to think that any home user or many tech-heads have 8x drive raid arrays at home for video editing with Windows Movie Maker or to serve the purposes of their Windows 7 Media Center.

    The consumer and pro-sumer will be quite happy with the speed and level of reliability that SSDs can offer but the crux of the problem for the medium to short term is both the cost of SSD devices and their relatively small storage sizes and those two things individually are enought to slow SSD adoption.

    It's a shame that the enterprise has the money to make the move but they generally handicapped by their server\support-providers and the home user readily doesn't have the money to spend on good high-capacity SSDs and so is more likely to stick with traditional HDDs.

    I for one in a personal environment would never spend £500 on a fast but small SSD over a huge HHD at 1/5 the cost no matter how much slower it is.
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