Storage will make the biggest impact of any technology in the 2010’s
Think I’m crazy? Think again.
Information and energy drive today’s world. The internet has re-invented life and work for the digitally enabled parts of the world, and the electrical grid and gas-powered transportation systems are what make our physical economy go round.
Batteries and bytes will change the world
Storage is the prime enabler of both of these infrastructures. And storage innovations for both will revolutionize both of these infrastructures over the next few years.
Energy storage is better known as fuel. Conventional energy media – coal and gas – are finally giving way (partly) to more efficient media. Notably, battery technology is at an inflection point, poised to transform automobiles and (yet again) information technology.
The U.S. government is even considering a Sematech-like consortium to collectively catch up on battery manufacturing capability.
Information storage is also going through a media transition. Solid state flash is finally ready to stand with disk drives and tape. In the next decade, the new storage media ecosystem will transform personal and business computing in ways we can’t even know today.
Information doesn’t get the headlines that software or processors or networking does, but none of these technologies would be usable without today’s storage technology. More than ever before, information is the mother of all technology, and storage is where that information resides.
If there was any doubt that Intel sees a future for flash off of the motherboard, their deal with HGST has put them to rest. Hitachi will market SSDs based on Intel’s flash technology.
This is a vote for SSDs in the Enterprise, where the benefits of flash can be fully realized. It is also a tacit endorsement of the integration value storage device makers bring to SSD products.
Solid state drives shine in the company of disk drives
SSDs are crazy fast but very expensive. Compared to SSDs, disk drives seem slow – but are very affordable. Which should you use?
Digitar’s experience shows the magic of blending the two technologies in an enterprise system. System speed resembles the SSD, while system cost looks more like the disk drive. Processing cost dropped from $6 per IOPS for disk only to $1 per IOPS in their blended system.
A little flash thoughtfully placed goes a long way.
SSDs will be an almost ideal addition to enterprise storage systems. Notebooks? Not so much.
1. Many drives vs. one drive. SSDs replace multiple disk drives in high-end enterprise systems. Notebooks use SSDs as a one-for-one replacement, which wastes most of the game-changing advantages of flash.
2. Servers need speed, notebooks need capacity. Servers can use SSD’s blazing performance without requiring much capacity. SSD performance matters little to a notebook, but hundreds of gigabytes are needed per drive. SSDs biggest weakness is cost per gigabyte.
3. SSD power consumption matters more to the enterprise. Notebooks care about power, but the drive’s share of a notebook’s power draw doesn’t make that much difference in battery life. High-end enterprise systems have a heat problem from multiple drives in a small space that SSD will help to alleviate.
4. Notebooks don’t leverage SSD speed. A notebook’s boot time and performance depend on many factors beyond access time. High-end systems use many drives striped in parallel to maximize performance – a perfect opportunity for a much faster device.
Even in Enterprise, the devil is in the details
So let’s go, right? Not so fast, cowboy! One way SSD is less suited for the data center than notebooks is in durability. Unlike notebooks, high-end systems work storage devices like dogs. SSDs are improving, but today’s products can wear out before their time. Losing data in a notebook doesn’t compare with losing it in a high-end business application. And standards are a bigger deal in the data center.
Ready-for-prime-time versions will be available starting in 2009. In the meantime, it’s smart to start playing with the technology now so you’re ready to implement in volume next year.
Buy a fancy SSD notebook, too, if you’re a Techie or want to act like one. If not, it’s probably a waste of your money.
Posted in Datacenter, Laptop PC, SSD
Tagged battery life, disk drive, enterprise, Flash, laptop, notebook, performance, power, SSD, storage
SSD sounds great, but the reality doesn’t match the dream
Solid State Technology talked to Seagate and Fujitsu SSD leaders and came to the same conclusions posted here before – SSDs for notebooks may sound like a great match, but it’s just not happening.
Why? Price – big difference! Boot time and battery life – little to no difference.
Yes, there are small opportunities for ultra-high end early adopters and ultra-portable mini-PCs. But the total opportunity for SSDs over the next several years will be miniscule compared to disk drives.
Enterprise is a larger and more profitable niche for SSDs – but even there the opportunity is at the tip of the storage iceberg that will remain dominated by disk.
Any SSD users out there that disagree?
Enterprise SAS drives are today’s best choice for most IT shops
The smart guys at Tom’s Hardware have done a yeoman’s job of sorting the facts from the fiction regarding SSDs for the enterprise. Their conclusions:
- SSDs are far faster than the speediest 15K SAS drive.
- SSDs are far more expensive than the speediest 15K SAS drive.
- Owners of high-end enterprise applications should look into adding SSD to increase overall performance – but think through all the possible ramifications.
- The rest of us should be patient and enjoy the superior performance vs. price of enterprise disk drives.
Posted in Datacenter, Industry trends, Products
Tagged Cheetah 15K, enterprise, Flash, hard drive, Hitachi UltraStar, review, SAS, SSD, Tom's Hardware
SSDs are exciting, but disk drives will do the heavy lifting for a while
Fast Company’s Tech Watch interviewed Sherman Black, the General Manager of Seagate’s Enterprise group, and came away seemingly surprised that disk drives are a vibrant technology.
The hype for SSDs is deafening these days, so step out of the Spin Room and let’s think about this calmly for a moment:
- Core technology shifts take decades
- SSDs cost 5X – 10X their equivalent in disk drive storage
- SSDs in notebooks don’t make much difference in performance, battery life or reliability
- SSD long-term reliability is iffy so far
- Solutions makers are still looking for a mainstream market for flash beyond $19.99 $15.99 $9.99 thumb drives
- Many thoughtful industry voices are saying the same thing
Yes, there are promising niches. Seagate sees segments of the enterprise market as a great place for its upcoming SSD solutions.
Sherman, by the way, is a perfect spokesperson for this topic from Seagate. He’s always got a smile and firm handshake for you, but you can see the steel in his eyes. Seagate and the rest of the disk drive industry are driven, racing to push the disk drive envelope even further.
Disk technology is in the prime of its life, accelerating rather than slowing. And the smart disk drive makers are adding SSDs to their bag of tricks even as they make their drives better.
It’s a great time to be in the storage business!