THE SSD EF­FECT

Why industry watch­ers and play­ers are call­ing SSDs one of the most im­por­tant in­ven­tions in re­cent his­tory.

HWM (Malaysia) - - THINK - Ken­nyYeo

SSDs have been around longer than you might ex­pect. The ear­li­est SSDs were de­vel­oped in the 1950s and used volatile mem­ory and were pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive, so much so that they were only used in very spe­cial­ized in­dus­tries. The first flash-based SSDs that used non­volatile mem­ory, sim­i­lar to the ones we are fa­mil­iar with now, were in­tro­duced only to­ward the end of the 80’s.

Al­though flash mem­ory paved the way for wide­spread main­stream adop­tion, it wasn’t only un­til the past two or so years that peo­ple - OEMs, busi­nesses, con­sumers - re­ally took no­tice of SSDs. Early flash-based SSDs had er­ratic per­for­mance and plagued by re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues. Al­though th­ese prob­lems went away as the tech­nol­ogy ma­tured, cost was still a pro­hibit­ing fac­tor. This changed around 2010 when de­mand for NAND mem­ory grew and man­u­fac­tur­ers ramped up pro­duc­tion. Prices of SSDs have fallen rapidly in the past two years - al­low­ing for wide­spread adop­tion, across not just con­sumer de­vices, but also in the en­ter­prise space.

Ex­am­ple, Chy­ronHego, one of the world’s largest providers of broad­cast graph­ics, lever­ages on SSDs to build sys­tems ca­pa­ble of han­dling the in­ten­sive band­width de­mands of mod­ern day high-res­o­lu­tion broadcasting. If you watch tele­vi­sion reg­u­larly, there’s a high chance you’ve seen Chy­ronHego’s work on air with­out know­ing.

At the re­cent Sam­sung SSD Sum­mit in South Korea, Chy­ronHego was ef­fu­sive in their praise for what SSDs can do for them. With a grow­ing de­mand for 4K video con­tent and the need to meet high band­width de­mands of such work­flows, the com­pany has switched to us­ing SSDs. Pe­ter Mor­rone, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of En­gi­neer­ing at Chry­onHego, also said that SSDs helped sim­plify their sys­tems be­cause a sin­gle SSD can pro­vide the same level of per­for­mance as a com­pli­cated RAID ar­ray of hard disk drives. As a re­sult, they can build

by sys­tems of higher per­for­mance that are less com­plex, takes up less space, and re­quire less en­ergy.

The av­er­age power con­sump­tion of an SSD is be­tween 3W to 4W, while idle power draw can be as lit­tle as 5mW or 0.005W. On the other hand, a high-per­for­mance 7,200rpm HDD de­signed for en­ter­prise work­loads can draw as much as 10W of power, while idle power draw is usu­ally in the re­gion of 1.5W. Not only that, be­cause an SSD is so quick, it can com­plete its task and re­turn to an idle state much faster than a hard disk drive, thus sav­ing even more power in the long run. This is one of the rea­sons why note­book man­u­fac­tur­ers fa­vor SSDs over hard disk drives - apart from im­proved per­for­mance and com­pact di­men­sions, they can also have a sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive im­pact on bat­tery life.

How­ever, it is in data cen­ters that the power ef­fi­ciency of SSDs can be best ap­pre­ci­ated. Data cen­ters hous­ing a large num­ber of drives en­joy very sig­nif­i­cant cost sav­ings and even the fringe ben­e­fits add up. Be­cause SSDs con­sume less power, they gen­er­ate less heat, sav­ing on cool­ing re­quire­ments. They also have no mov­ing parts, which saves on fa­cil­ity setup, e.g., racks no longer need to com­pen­sate for vi­bra­tions.

Thanks to the many ben­e­fits of SSDs, the mar­ket is ex­pected to grow at dou­ble-digit rates, and will more than dou­ble in the next five years. Sam­sung, one of the lead­ers in the mar­ket, cur­rently es­ti­mates that the de­mand for flash mem­ory is at around 60 bil­lion GB, and it expects this fig­ure to grow to over 120 bil­lion GB in 2020. Al­ready, the ca­pac­i­ties of SSDs are ap­proach­ing that of hard disk drives. Next year, Sam­sung will roll out 4TB ver­sions of its SSD 850 PRO and 850 EVO drives. And as pro­duc­tion of its lat­est mem­ory chip ramps up, ex­pect th­ese large-ca­pac­ity SSDs to be­come more af­ford­able. So as SSD ca­pac­i­ties and prices catch up to that of hard disk drives, the big­ger ques­tion is whether hard disk drives can weather this on­slaught and re­main rel­e­vant in the fu­ture, or will they be made ob­so­lete in the same way dig­i­tal cam­eras killed off film.

NOVEM­BER 2015

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HWM

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