ChalkTalk Video – Bridging the Gap between Consumer and Enterprise SSDs

The SAS/SATA SSD market has evolved into two main groups; drives built for enterprise storage systems and those designed for consumers’ PCs and laptops. But SSDs are also being put into servers for application acceleration and faster boot up, a use case that isn’t being well served by either of these products. To bridge this gap, Micron has introduced a new product with the reliability of enterprise SSDs at a price closer to consumer drives.

Storage Switzerland Founder and Lead Analyst George Crump and Micron Product Marketing Manager Matt Shain discuss the reasoning behind this new technology in this ChalkTalk video.

Enterprise and Consumer SSDs

At the high end are traditional storage system vendors that have for the past several years been replacing some of the hard disk drives in their enterprise storage arrays with SSDs. These use cases demand higher reliability and better overall performance than the consumer drives. They also have a requirement for longer endurance, since drive replacement needs to be targeted to coincide with system refresh cycles.

At the other end are lower cost SSDs for personal computers and gaming boxes that need higher performance than spinning disk can produce. For these use cases reliability and longevity are secondary concerns, with low cost being the primary design objective. But there’s now emerging a significant market for business-grade products that perform like enterprise drives do but have price points closer to consumer SSDs.

Server-side SSDs

More and more companies are seeing the advantages to deploying SSDs in the application server, either as boot drives or as a local, high-performance storage area to support caching or tiering software. These SSDs need to be as reliable as traditional enterprise drives and last as long as the servers they’re installed in, typically 3-5 years. But since the duty cycle these drives will experience is less demanding than enterprise drives, they can fully leverage lower-cost NAND flash technologies.

This is the market that Micron’s M500DC was designed to serve. It has an attractive price point while still providing the performance and endurance required by these server-side use cases. The fact that it’s manufactured by Micron gives this drive some additional advantages as well.

Vertically integrated supplier

Many flash vendors must buy their silicon chips from another supplier, which means they’re at the mercy of other companies’ product schedules and pricing. Flash fabrication is a tricky business, one that can fluctuate dramatically from one production run to the next. This can cause availability problems, pricing changes and even cause a supplier to prioritize deliveries, shorting smaller vendors in favor of their larger customers. Micron runs their own silicon fabrication plants, removing any supply uncertainty for the NAND flash chips used in their SSDs.

Being a flash manufacturer, Micron should understand the intricacies of flash and how it behaves better than an SSD vendor that doesn’t manufacture the silicon. Part of that knowledge can be applied to improving flash endurance, one area that Micron has developed controller technologies to address.

For more information on this new SSD that bridges the gap between consumer and enterprise drives, read the M500DC Product Analysis on Storage Switzerland.

Micron is a client of Storage Switzerland

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