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Get the most out of solid-state storage

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Speeding up database operations

Any application that needs improved performance or lower storage latency is a good candidate for solid-state storage technology. For example, many database operations are actually a sequence of several small requests grouped together as a package, such as table scans and queries, which are executed sequentially where the output of one request becomes the input of the next request and so on. The final answer isn’t returned to the application until all the smaller requests comprising the entire transaction have been satisfied. In these cases, the significantly reduced latency (faster turnaround) that solid-state storage delivers can make a huge difference in the overall performance of the application or end-user experience.

The best enterprise hard disk drives have an average seek time latency of approximately 2ms for every request, and not every storage system enables the cache memory on the drives due to data protection concerns. So even if the SSDs in use had the exact same performance as the hard drives, the SSDs would provide better overall latency because they have no seek time. Imagine running a large batch of complex database transactions where every I/O is subject to the seek time latency of good enterprise hard drives; then imagine that same batch of complex database operations without the seek time latency and with faster storage devices, and you’ll see why SSDs are so good for database applications.

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This was first published in March 2012

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