New SSDs: Faster, Cheaper

SSDs are quickly transitioning from an enterprise novelty to a fundamental component of data center operations, according to the latest research. At the same time, demand is helping drive down costs, overcoming one of the main stumbling blocks to widespread deployment.

Origen Storage reports that enterprise-class SSDs are on track to hit 4.1 million unit sales by 2015, compared to just 150,000 this year. That represents a growth rate of about 90 percent a year, fueled mostly by the increase in Web-based applications and transaction processing. A drop in NAND prices is expected to propel the market in the coming years, along with a switch from current single-level cell technology to the more advanced multi-level cell format.

However, it’s been something of a misnomer lately that SSDs are taking over enterprise applications from the more traditional hard disk drives. In fact, the two are targeted toward very different roles in the data center — HDDs gravitating toward higher-capacity environments and SSDs being deployed in areas demanding high throughput. That’s why you see companies like HP quickly ramping up the storage interface capabilities with new 6 Gb SAS models, most likely from Samsung or SandForce.

Ultra-fast database processing will also see a fair share of SSD deployments in the near future. Companies like Super Talent are building lightning-fast models like the TeraDrive using SandForce processing technology. The new TeraDrive FT2 sports 3 Gb SATA support and an impressive 30,000 IOPS capability. That, along with 24-byte error correction make it an ideal solution for applications with high random read and write speeds, according to

Some of the newest models are also turning to advanced caching as a way to boost I/O. OCZ Technology Group recently gained qualification for Adaptec’s MaxIQ cache system, which the company says can boost I/O eight times over comparable HDD arrays, and cut capital and operating expenses some 70 percent. It also allows for mixed SSD/HDD arrays for enterprises looking to consolidate multi-tiered storage environments under a single hardware platform.

The beauty of SSDs is that they provide such high performance using relatively little energy, although their life spans could certainly stand a little improvement. But particularly for high-speed transactional environments, it’s good to know that replacement costs should come down steadily as the technology becomes more ubiquitous.

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