Q

SATA reliability and performance

Why do SATA disk drives have a reputation for not being as reliable and having lower performance than traditional enterprise disk drives?
The harsh reality is that ATA and SATA disk drives have a lower MTBF (mean time between failures) specification and lower performance compared to enterprise Fibre Channel ( FC) and SCSI disk drives.

There is, however, good news in that there are different classes or types of SATA disk drives specifically what...

are referred to as desktop and enterprise. Enterprise-class SATA disk drives typically cost more and have more features built in to maximize their performance, reliability and availability. There is another tier of SATA disk drives and that involves picking out the best, more reliable disk drives out of a batch of manufactured drives that survive a more extensive test process. These drives that pass additional tests can be considered premium drives and probably will be more reliable and thus you may pay more.

The lower performance of SATA disk drives is a reality in that they are lower cost, so performance enabling technology has been removed. Bottom line is you get what pay for. It is often said that SATA disk drives are the same and that all will be impacted performance-wise when subjected to noise and vibration. This is not a myth, however it really only applies if you subject the disk drives to constant vibration, movement and utilize poor packaging. In other words, don't bolt the disks together with a couple of pieces of scrap metal and place on your desktop surface and subject the drives to extreme random I/Os.

This was first published in July 2005

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