Dennis Martin: SSD systems offer more than speed

Solid-state storage gets a lot of attention for its much-publicized speed advantages over hard disk, but its energy efficiency is equally compelling. In this Storage Decisions video, Dennis Martin, president of research firm Demartek, outlines some of the major implementations of solid-state storage systems, including in traditional disk arrays, all-SSD arrays and in caching appliances. He also discusses the energy usage of SSD systems in this presentation.

When it comes to a traditional array, adding SSDs can boost performance. "How much SSD do you need in a big array? We're finding anywhere from 3% to 10% is plenty to give you a performance bump in your critical applications. … This is all you really need to get started," Martin said.

He noted that, even a few years ago, a well-heeled storage buyer looking to fill a traditional array with SSDs would still hit a performance limit, since storage controller technology wasn't able to keep up with the performance of the solid-state drives. But over the last few years, every storage vendor has been redesigning controllers to handle increasing numbers of SSD systems in their arrays.

"Everyone has rearchitected their controller. Whether it's a high-end disk controller or even a RAID controller you put in your server, they've all rearchitected them because we have these really fast devices that we didn't used to have," Martin said.

There are even all-SSD arrays available today, he noted, which come equipped with such features as like thin provisioning, compression and deduplication.

"Mostly, these come from startups. But you've [probably] heard statements from big-name companies … saying, 'We're going to do this,'" Martin said. "Either they're going to buy somebody out or they're going to engineer their own, but very soon, you will expect all the big-name guys to say, 'Yeah. We support an array of all-flash.'"

Martin noted that solid-state caching can speed up existing storage systems. "You say, 'I want to map some or all of this storage through this caching device,' and now you've just sped [up] every storage [device] on the back end, and all your servers on the front … and you haven't touched anything on either end," Martin said. 

Martin also discussed how solid-state drives consume less power than hard disk drives, which not only saves money in operating costs, but also cuts down on energy needed to keep the devices running cool.

"Don't forget -- every watt of power you consume to do something in a computer, you have to spend anywhere from half to another watt to cool it," Martin said. "Well, if you're not using as much power, you don't need as much cooling; and if you're using devices that run cooler, they also need less cooling. … SSDs are great for power consumption."

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