Remember back in the day when Beta and VHS tapes were "it" for movies until those crazy discs called DVD's came out? Well some of you may not remember those days *rolls eyes*. Anyway, for me at least I couldn't imagine there being anything better until LCD TV's and Blu-rays became the norm. Now the question is what could possibly be better than Blu-ray? This next step could be movies written onto a chip something like a flash drive. After all we've seen flash drives go from 64MB to an astounding 64GB all packed into a small USB keychain in no time.
Your thinking, alright that's great and all, but what is SSD? It stands for Solid State Drive and could just very well be the beginning of the end for Disk Drives.
Here at SoftLayer we offer the best SSD's you can find on the market which are the Intel X25-E's (The E stands for Extreme Edition). Unlike the X25-M's which are multi-level cell (MLC) the Extreme Edition's are single-level cell (SLC). Usually you think that multi would be better than single. For space yes, but performance wise, it adds about 100MB/sec to the write speed. They both however, have identical 250MB/sec sustained read speeds.
Okay, so how can SSD's help your server?
Where SSD's scream is their I/O performance. According to benchmarks done by Tom's Hardware (TH) using IOMeter (Database Benchmarking), the X25-E's are pushing over 5,000 I/O operations per second falling to ~3000 dependant on the queue depth. Comparing this to a 15.5K Seagate Cheetah is like comparing a Cassette Tape to a CD, as the Cheetah maxes out ~500 I/O operations per second. TH did several other benchmarks including File Server, Web Server, and Work Station benchmarks, yielding similar results giving the X25-E a lead of about 10 fold over the Cheetah. Access times are also no competition at 0.1ms vs. 5.7ms. The TH review is definitely worth the read if you are looking into such an upgrade and can be found at: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-x25-e-ssd,2158.html
SSD consumes only a fraction of the power that a HDD uses. According to Intel the X25 uses only 0.06W at idle and peaks at 2.4W under load. Your typical Hard Disk Drive will use on average ~7.5W at idle and ~10W under load.
As well as using less power, since there are no moving parts that in turn means higher reliability as well as less noise generated. Less noise means us tech's won't have problems hearing you on the phone from the ringing in our ears from working in the datacenter *lol*.
Taking SSD to the extreme …
Samsung recently released a video where they strung together 24 Samsung 256GB MLC SSD's resulting in 6TB of storage and 2GB/sec of throughput. For your viewing pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96dWOEa4Djs&fmt=22
Who knows what the future has in store for us, in ten years we may look at this video like we look at this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZb0avfQme8
One thing is for certain, quieter, faster, more reliable, and more energy efficient datacenters.