What you need to know about SSDs

Storage plays an integral role for workstations and data centers, deeming it imperative for businesses to evaluate their storage requirements as well as the vast range of storage options available on the market. Over the years, demand for low-latency data access and quick data transfer has risen significantly in response to increasing storage requirements. More and more businesses who operate on a tight schedule are looking towards Solid-State Drives (SSDs) as a means of addressing their storage infrastructure needs.

In recent years, SSDs have become a mainstay in data centers in part due to the limitations of traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). Traditional HDDs are sufficient for high-capacity, cold data storage but their reliance on moving mechanical parts for read/write operations hinders overall performance. In contrast, SSDs utilize NAND flash memory technology to store data. This non-mechanical storage medium drastically speeds up data access and random disk operations. An SSD can complete multiple tasks in the same amount of time it would take for a hard disk drive to even initiate a small disk operation. HDDs may have been adequate in the past, but SSDs have taken over as the storage solution of choice for the live services and applications in today’s world.

Businesses can choose from different classes of SSDs to find the best fit for their systems and applications. Generally speaking, client-oriented SSDs are ideal from a value perspective and excel under smaller workloads whereas enterprise-based SSDs are best suited for heavier workloads. Important aspects to look at when evaluating SSDs are performance and endurance.


Performance

Performance is evaluated by metrics such as sequential and random read/write speeds as well as responsiveness/latency. Under smaller, more read-focused workloads, client-based SSDs deliver similar performance to enterprise-based SSDs with minimal heat and power consumption. Since enterprise systems serve a larger number of users, enterprise SSDs must be built to handle heavier, sustained workloads.

With so many users accessing and writing data simultaneously, enterprise drives focus on minimizing latency to bolster the user experience and improve overall response time. In contrast to client SSDs which involve more sporadic usage and quick data access in burst intervals, enterprise SSDs are built to handle frequent data access with larger over-provisioning space to deliver superior sustained performance and IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second).


Endurance

The memory cells that make up NAND flash have a limited number of P/E (Program/Erase) cycles. Writing data onto the drive causes wear and tear on the flash cell layers which eventually leads to performance degradation. A major aspect of endurance is the number of P/E cycles the SSD can deliver. A common metric for evaluating endurance is terabytes written (TBW) which indicates the estimated amount of data that can be written before performance starts to drop off.

NAND SSD endurance is largely contingent on its memory cell density. NAND flash comes in single-level cell (SLC), multi-level cell (MLC), triple-level cell (TLC) and quad-layer cell (QLC) configurations. SLC solid-state drives are the least dense at a single bit per cell. They are typically the most expensive option for NAND SSDs but are also the fastest and most durable. MLC solid-state drives have double the bits per cell but are slower than SLCs since it takes longer to write 2-bits into a cell instead of a single bit. TLC drives are currently the most commonplace among consumer SSDs, packing three-bits per cell to strike a nice balance between value and performance. QLC drives are currently the highest density commercial offering at four-bits per cell and are the most cost-friendly but the slowest and least durable. Penta-level cell (PLC) drives are still in development.

Drive endurance is based on write cycles so there is a tradeoff between storage capacities and endurance levels. Less data is written per write on SLC drives compared to QLC drives; SLC can last up to 100,000 P/E cycles while QLC can handle around 1,000 P/E cycles. Taking endurance into consideration, client SSDs lean towards a balance between cost and endurance while enterprise SSDs are designed to handle the wear and tear from more frequent write cycles with its 24/7 uptime and higher number of concurrent users. Enterprise SSDs will also feature extra data protection mechanisms to ensure optimal data integrity.


What's Next For SSDs?

Recent advancements in SSD design such as the likes of NVMe (non-volatile memory express) have further accelerated data access and transfer rates. While SATA (Serial-ATA) based SSDs are faster than HDDs, they are limited by the SATA bus interface which caps out at 550 mb/s to 600 mb/s. Avoiding this bottleneck, NVMe SSDs utilize the PCIe serial bus interface for faster and more efficient data transfer. The result is significantly faster throughput as NVMe SSDs can deliver at least 5x faster transfer rates in comparison to SATA SSDs. NVMe storage is also available in multiple form factors giving users more flexibility and options for installation.

Solid-state drives have come a long way in recent years. While SSDs vastly outperform HDDs and are starting to supplant them in the data center altogether, they are currently a more significant upfront investment which makes it highly essential to protect them with a reliable warranty. If your business is seeking the highest performing and most reliable storage solutions backed by the best industry warranties, be sure to inquire about Axiom Client and Enterprise SSDs. Axiom leads the way in SSD solutions to power your storage infrastructure.

Our complete lineup of solid-state drives addresses your client and enterprise SSD needs. Each SSD has been thoroughly tested for full compatibility with servers and storage arrays from major OEM brands. Paired with the provided OEM drive caddies, our SSDs can be seamlessly installed into the most popular server and storage arrays. Axiom Client Series SSDs deliver excellent IOPS, transfer speeds and data protection for standard consumer, business and client applications while Axiom Enterprise SSD Server Drives handle your server and data center needs with 24/7 accessibility, consistent operation with low latency, flexibility in both form factor as well as capacity sizes, sustained IOPS performance under heavy workloads and data protection. Axiom also offers workload focused enterprise SSD options with its Axiom Value Series Enterprise SSDs and Professional Series SSDs. The Value Series Enterprise SSDs are designed for more read-performance focused workloads while our Professional Series SSDs offer more write-performance focused options.


Ready to Browse SSDs?

Tailor your storage infrastructure to how you see fit with the multitude of options we offer. If you are interested in learning more about our client and enterprise SSDs or seeking more detailed information on the SSD specifications, please visit the following:

Explore storage options here: Storage
Browse enterprise SSD server drives here: Enterprise SSD Server Drives
Find your next client series SSD here: Client Series SSD
Or to speak with one of our Axiom team members today, please contact us here: Axiom Sales Representative

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