Some solid-state drives share the same 1.8 inch, 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch formats as standard hard drives. These drives have capacities up to 2 TB, but cost more than the equivalent HDD. "It looks similar to a drive. It fits into the same slot as a hard drive," said Martin.
He noted that SSDs have progressed beyond 10k and 15k hard drives for the enterprise -- not just in terms of speed but also storage capacity. "This is one area where SSDs have crossed over hard drives, as far as enterprise-class devices …. They're actually better in terms of capacity," said Martin.
But SSDs aren't limited to drive bays -- the medium-sized drive can be installed on a PCI Express card as well, with capacities of up to (a pricey) 10 TB. "Ten terabytes on a single card -- very expensive, way more than the cost of a server," said Martin.
Another option on the desktop end is the mSATA format, with capacities up to 256 GB. "These are the mini-things that are about the size of a credit card that fit inside a server or a desktop machine"
And another alternative is to turn a memory slot into storage with the SATA/DIMM format.
"This is where you have something that looks like a DIMM memory card, but it's actually flash. It has a little tiny SATA port on top, and you put it in your memory slot in your server, so it draws power from the memory slot, but you connect your SATA cable to it and it's a SATA device," said Martin.
There are also all solid-state storage arrays available today. "We've seen a petabyte in a single rack of SSDs …. That's a lot of storage in one rack," said Martin, who suggested some benefits as well, albeit at a cost. "If you're concerned about footprint and power consumption, this is a very interesting alternative. Obviously, the price you've got to consider."