A new research report predicts that use of solid state drives (SSD) in enterprise servers and storage systems will explode over the next five years, increasing in numbers by 50 times.
The report also states that the enterprise SSD market is likely to approach $4 billion in revenues by 2015, nearly 17 times that of 2009, while unit shipments will increase to more than 4 million drives. The report, Enterprise SSDs: Technologies & Markets, was conducted by research firm Objective Analysis.
"Solid state drives have already enjoyed explosive growth in the enterprise, and this growth will continue through 2015," said SSD analyst Jim Handy, the report's author. "IT managers have found that they can significantly reduce their IT spend while increasing throughput by replacing enterprise hard disk drives (HDDs) with a technology that initially appears to be much more costly."
The report further states that SSDs reduce storage system hardware requirements and reduce total cost of ownership, power and floor space.
SSDs are being used in corporate data centres to either replace 15,000 rpm Fibre Channel drives or add a higher-performance level of storage above Fibre Channel for applications such as relational databases or streaming video.
The performance advantage for SSDs in the data centre is tremendous. A single SSD, for example, can produce as much as 16,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS). In comparison, a high-end 15,000-rpm Fibre Channel drive maxes out at 200 IOPS.
SSDs were originally aimed at enterprise-class data centres, with the highest-quality single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash chips used to ensure the highest performance and reliability. However, today, multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash, which stores more than 1 bit of data per flash memory cell, offers higher capacities, and is approaching the same performance and reliability as SLC through the use of special firmware in the drive's controller.
Dean Klein, vice president of memory system development at Micron, a fabricator of NAND flash memory chips and SSDs for enterprise-class data centres and consumer products said a storage administrator can replace as many as 30 Fibre Channel drives with a single SSD. Storage admins will often short stroke hard disk drives in order to increase performance. Short stroking involves setting up drives so that only the outer sectors of a drive's platter are accessed by the read/write head, but in doing so most of the drive's capacity is wasted.
According to Objective Analysis' 104-page report, there are 22 key enterprise applications for SSDs with varying uses.
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