Friday, June 21, 2024

Why SSDs Are (Far) Better Than Mechanical Disks

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The debate about the relative merits of solid state drives vs. spinning disks has been heating up as SSDs gain ever more converts. Kenneth Hess discusses the the issue.

Have you ever heard the terms, head crash or stiction? Better yet, have you ever experienced either of them? These terms are just two of the unhappy occurrences associated with mechanical disks. What if disks didn’t spin? What if there were a way to create rewriteable storage in such a way that there were no platters, no spindles and no heads? You’d have a solid state disk with no moving parts. Solid state disks (SSDs) are all the rage for server vendors, SAN vendors, and appliance manufacturers. Why? Not because they’re cheap — they’re not. SSDs have several advantages over traditional mechanical (spinning) disks. Here are 10 of the most frequently quoted advantages of SSDs over mechanical disks.

1. Life Expectancy

Mechanical drives have an average life expectancy of three to five years. Many fail long before the lower end of the average, and few last beyond the upper end of the average. At three years, you should seriously consider a refresh. At five years, you’re skating on ice so thin it’s really just very cold water. Alternatively, SSDs have life expectancies reaching into decades, although trusting the 1 million to 2 million hour SSD expectancy claims seems as ridiculous as the 500,000-hour claims of mechanical drive manufacturers. Expect your SSDs to last two to three times longer than mechanical drives.

2. Performance

Since SSDs have no moving parts, their access and seek times are many times faster than those of their mechanical counterparts. Mechanical drives have high-burst speeds, but their sustained speeds are unimpressive by SSD standards. However, write performance is not significantly different between the two technologies*. Therefore, read and access performance-heavy workloads will benefit from SSDs, while workloads that are write-intensive would do as well with the less-expensive standard disks.

Read the rest about SSDs vs. spinning disks at ServerWatch.

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