“Gold plated” SSD for the green data center?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about using SSD (solid state drive) for data center servers. After reading this article, I have to question how practical some of this is.

There’s no denying that SSDs consume far less power than conventional HDDs, can provide better performance, and can consume less space too. Consuming less power results in less waste heat to remove from the data center and that’s not a bad thing either. The problem is, do the economics work?

In the example given, MySpace switched to PCIe based SSD drives. This effectively allowed them to recover 50% of the physical space in their congested data center by reducing the size of their rackmount servers from 2U to 1U. It sounds good, but does it all add up?

First, the article states that they only required 2 380GB drives per machine. The DL380 servers they replaced are 2U with 6 drive bays. This shows that they were wasting the capacity of the DL380s in the first place. It’s always good to use your space more efficiently, but this isn’t attributable to the change to SSD, just correcting sloppy engineering.

Second, they replaced standard drives retailing for under $100 each with proprietary hardware of the same size for ***$7000*** each. That’s ***$14,000*** per server, plus the price tag for the new DL160 server. Figure that as $15,000 + per server. They spent 70x the cost to gain a 50% energy saving on a relatively small part of the server.

There are far more productive ways to green a data center. Leave the “gold plated” SSDs to those with more money than sense.

Vern, SwiftWater Telecom

data center facility engineering


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