Intel and Hewlett-Packard both released new products designed to bring together flash memory and datacenter applications as a way to boost performance and reduce power and heat requirements, without actually changing very much more than the addition of a single medium.
Solid state drives (SSD) that use NAND flash memory rather than magnetic storage on hard disks or DRAM random-access memory have become increasingly popular in the consumer market, where they get credit for slashing boot-up times, extending battery life by using less power than a spinning disk, reducing overall weight and speeding things along with I/O write/read speeds many times that of most hard drives.
However, SSDs have made little progress into the datacenter, partially due to their high price compared to hard drives, but also because of concerns about their reliability and potential lifespan. That’s slowly changing: SSD costs have come down to around $1 per gigabyte, compared to a few cents per gigabyte for hard disks, and the reliability has increased to the point that major vendors are pitching SSDs as legitimate contenders for storage slots in production systems. Some datacenter managers are listening.
Non-datacenter SSDs made by Intel, such as its SSD 525 series, are rated to deliver random read/write storage speeds between 50,000/80,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) and a real-world sequential read/write speed of 550Mbps/520Mbps.
The Intel SSD is rated as using 350 milliwatts of power when active, compared to 5.8 watts for the Western Digital’s Velociraptor line of 10,000-RPM workstation HDDs with 6Gbps SATA interfaces. Intel’s chief contender is its new line of DC S3500 line of SSDs, billed as a cloud-computing edition and designed to be a high-performance datacenter product.
The DC S3500 is actually a more economical version of the DC S3700 SSD it released in December. It is NAND flash memory built on Intel’s 20nm scale, with single-drive capacity ranging from 80GB to 800GB in either 2.5″ or 1.8″ sizes, and comes with SATA 3 (6Gbps) interfaces and speed up to 70,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS).
The technology is also rated at 2 million hours Mean Time Between Failures, and a lifespan long enough to absorb 450TB of data written into memory. On top of that, there’s protection against power loss, 256-bit encryption and a list price of just over $1 per gigabyte.
HP added its bit to the availability of fast datacenter storage by announcing the 3PAR StoreServ 7450 Storage unit, designed with tier-1 disaster-tolerant capabilities, load balancing and data migration features, the ability to hit 550,000 I/O operations per second and a response time of seven tenths of a millisecond.