Skip to main content

SSD 102: The Ins And Outs Of Solid State Storage

Recommendations For SSD Deployment

Sufficient System Performance

While SSDs help accelerate system response times and performance in a very noticeable way, it turns out that their large number of I/O operations per second can only be leveraged if the host system can keep pace. We did a performance analysis comparing SSD performance on systems with and without CPU power saving mechanisms, showing that power saving has a negative impact on SSD performance. Experience shows that the same applies to I/O-intensive scenarios. An old Pentium 4 just can't handle the massive I/O throughput of a modern SSD, while a quad-core Xeon or Core i5/i7 can. Thus, you should upgrade older servers before upgrading to SSDs.

Secure Erase Considerations

Given that modern controllers take care of write distribution, and file deletion won't always trigger physical deletion of blocks, it's advisable to plan a secure erase strategy for drives that are to be decommissioned in the future. Tools such as Secure Erase 4.0 are helpful.

Firmware Support

Don’t pick an SSD product for which there are no possible firmware upgrades. Updates almost always introduce performance tweaks and may even improve efficiency.

More sophisticated solutions require dedicated support by SSD vendors to be successful.

Sufficient RAM

Most people would think that a very fast SSD is suitable to host the system swap file. This is true, but the much better approach is to provide a sufficient amount of main memory in order to avoid swap file activity. Solutions with 8+ GB of RAM and RAM drives to hold the swap file are the more elegant and higher-performing approaches.