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SSD vs HDD server performance

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Posted on July 6th, 2011 by Victoria Pal in Tech

ssd vs hdd server

Is SSD (Solid State Drive) the solution for the ever widening gap between current hard drive technology and CPU advancements? Is this the next step in data storage and are SSD drives here to stay? How reliable are they? Are they actually worth it?

This is just a handful of questions from a huge, huge batch. SSD are still pretty expensive for everyday use. They are still the domain of computer enthusiasts and early adopters. Leaving the money question aside, let’s check whether they are a good solution for business workstations and high-end server hardware.

SSD vs HDD server

While SSD drives might not be the best choice for personal computing, they might be great for server hardware. In an average laptop, you might be better off with a 5400rpm drive. Most users don’t see any battery life improvement. In fact, the 5400rpm drives can drain the battery even less than SSD drive. Unlike it, HDD can actually spin down and actually reduce the battery drain to a minimum. SSD drives might use more power when running idle, but that is only an issue for personal computers and laptops. Server hard drives rarely stay idle.

SSD vs HDD as database servers

SSDs are in fact great for database servers. Most requests are extremely small in size and are often random in nature. With SSD drives there is no mechanical latency to limit the performance. They offer great speed improvements even over 15000rpm drives. The lack of moving parts reduces the heat coming from the drive, thus requiring less power to cool down a server rack.

Many data centers cut costs from cooling. This way they stress their hardware more and need to replace it more often, but it pays off when you look at the power bill. You can have the best of both worlds with SSD. They generate almost no heat at all. Claims of 50% lower electricity bill might not be too far fetched, when you consider the less power required to cool down the server racks.

SSD vs HDD  life expectancy

The life expectancy of a SSD drive is said to extend to 50 years, which is pretty hard to believe and most likely not applicable to servers. It must be somewhat close. Unfortunately, SSDs as we know it have been around only for a couple of years, so no one really knows. The life cycle is limited by the number of write cycles. This is why there are a lot of server applications for SSDs where information is only to be read from them.

SSD vs HDD performance

Let’s not forget they do the job faster. This means that they complete tasks faster than traditional storage devices. Ideally, this could reduce the amount of disks required in an installation. This is highly unlikely before larger SSDs become available, but it is one of those features that will make a difference once the technology improves.

Conclusion

With SSD you get higher performance, high reliability, power savings, more than a reasonable lifespan, and a hefty price tag. Depending on the scale of implementation, the last one might not be true too, considering the lower power bill.

If you plan to upgrade your installation it might be wise to wait for a while. Prices are said to go down by 50% by the end of the year. Early adopters, who have chosen to use SSDs in their web and database servers rarely complain and speed is never the issue.

Victoria Pal

Doesn't like queuing (particularly at Wimbledon). Likes travelling, tennis and reading. Loves working as a Project Manager at WebSitePulse.

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