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Solid State Disks – Sorry EMC, Fibre Channel Disks aren’t dead yet! (Part 2)

By Jim Hankins

Our view of Solid State Disks (SSDs), borne out by lab tests, is that some of the workloads that use 15K RPM drives today could take advantage of and cost-justify SSDs. Even then, not all 15K RPM drives are expected to be displaced. Rather, we expect SSD to be used as a premium performance tier in well designed, balanced storage deployments. We expect 10K and 7.2K RPM disk drives will continue to be popular in disk arrays, along with virtualization of external storage devices, as customers consolidate data storage and implement multiple tiers of storage capacity for their business needs.

While SSD offers significantly improved performance and lower energy consumption compared with HDD, SSDs also bear a huge cost premium. Today's average SSD costs many times more than the equivalent capacity and grade of HDD. While the cost difference may close, we expect it to remain significant for several years into the future. These differences means that SSDs will be relegated to applications that require extremely high performance, need relatively little capacity and can justify a very large cost premium.

The trend of decreasing HDD shipment volumes-particularly FC drives-has been underway for quite some time, but it has very little to do with the potential of SSD drives. It is largely due to the rapidly improving performance/capacity/reliability of SAS/FATA/SATA drives. In the past few years, we have witnessed SAS and SATA drives establishing their presence in tier 2 and tier 3 storage environments, then gradually moving up into the primary storage space. We expect that SAS/SATA drives will replace FC/xATA over the next few years for many of the applications that use FC drives today. We view this as a natural evolution of disk drive technology similar to what was seen in the past.


High-end HDDs will remain around for many years to come. We don't see SSD drives having major market penetration until 2012, and then less than 1/3 of the high-end HDDs shipped. SSD has been very successful with consumers, but it will take many years to be ready for the enterprise and gain adoption. Currently, we ship more than 45% of the disk drives in the market today (according to IDC) and are constantly monitor disk drive market conditions and trends. We have been investing R&D in SSD across our complete portfolio for some time now; it's not something we just recently added on our roadmaps due to competitor's movement in this space.

With all that being said, I sure would like to hear from you if you recently deployed an SSD in your disk array and whether or not it met your expectations. Or let me if know you are considering SSD in the very near future, too.

And don't hold your breath EMC, your prediction for SSD drives in 2010 will just be like "Tape is Dead" - Wrong!

Anonymous | ‎08-24-2008 11:21 PM

I´m disagree with you.

I think that the cost os SSD is less that standar disk in some case.

A standar SSD give you 10.000 IOPS(and up to 20.000 IOPS), a standar 15Krpm 180 IOPS.

So, you will need more that 50 HDD 15krpm to  compare IOPS performance .

A SSD 64 GB cost U$S 1400 ; 50x72GB(15Krpm) is more expensive. and probably you need a storage system to work on it.

So, I believe that there is a mentality problem (to accept the new tecnology) and a market of HDD that manufacturer don't like to change.


Sergio soccal

| ‎08-27-2008 04:46 AM

Hi Sergio,

Jim Hankins is on vacation this week so I wanted to respond to your comment.

If you set a Fibre Channel (FC) disk drive on a table next to a solid state drive (SSD), the spec sheets will have performance like what you stated.  However, that isn't real world.  Drives work in an environment that have other factors that will impact the "real-world" performance.

Another aspect that is often ignored is reliability.  The customers that use FC drives are slow to adopt new technologies.  Even when SSD drives are at price parity with FC drives (which is years away, not days), customers will move slowly to SSD's only when they are satisfied that they won't impact the availability and performance of their applications.

HP is not an HDD vendor and has nothing to gain by trying to impede the ramp of SSD .  I think we're trying to stem the artificial exurbance created by some silly predictions about how quickly SSD will replace Fibre Channel drives.  As our customers start to move to solid state technology, HP will be there not with hype but with tested, trusted solutions that cut across our servers and storage.

Finally, my colleague Jieming Zhu from our StorageWorks CTO team just posted a blog on the topic of Solid State Technology that addresses some of your comments.  Take a look at it here: 

Thanks for your thoughts,


Anonymous | ‎09-15-2008 09:15 PM

Please help me understand, could our company be an exception?

We use 94% of all our applications online, like, and various online email services.

Does this allow us to avoid publisized performance issues with SSD ?

Because we are not really frequently writing to our local hard drive ?

Or will Vista / Xp , IE explorer run slower because they will be running locally ?

jim hankins | ‎09-16-2008 02:47 AM

Hi Bill,

Not sure I can answer your questions without some more specifics. Are you asking about SSD performance issues as it relates to use of SSD as a system disk in PCs or laptops? If so, I would  have to believe if your online (or web-based applications) significantly reduce access to your system disk then you could avoid some of the issue you may have read about with SSD.  

Since my blog entry was about the use of SSD in large disk arrays attached to servers my commentary was related to the kinds of issues that you might find in those enviroments.

Hope this helps.


Jim Hankins

Anonymous | ‎09-16-2009 01:44 PM


   I'm afraid that I'm going to have to agree with you here :-) Solid State Drives are certainly cool, but overall I think their short term importance has been over-hyped. Qualifying an SSD and putting it into a disk enclosure is hardly a major feat of engineering, I'm sure that HP could have done this pretty quickly if the'yd decided that it was really worth the effort.

Large 64 bit address spaces, cheaper RAM, Flash and other forms of solid state storage will almost certainly reduce the need for spindle IOPS (look at what happened with Exchange 2007 vs Exchange 2003, similar things should happen with Exchange 2010). at the very least the workloads will become more write intensive.

I think that people will continue to use "FC drives" though I think a better term will be  10K and15K drives as drive interconnects complete their transition from FC to SAS. What we will see however is a greater proportion of the provisioned capacity will be 10K SFF drives and 7.2K SATA using some form of solid state devices to accelerate these workloads dynamically

In the really long term, the boundaries between "main memory", "virtual memory" and the various tiers of "mass storage" will blur, and my kids will wonder why the heck we call some parts of storage disks.

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