Solid State Storage 101 - An Introduction to Solid State Storage

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Publish Date: 
Thursday, January 1, 2009
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Solid state data storage is gaining significant acceptance today. Storage based on Ram Access Memory (RAM) and Flash chips instead of mechanical hard disk drives is earning much greater attention by meeting the market requirements for reliability, performance, and cost more effectively than ever before. Additionally, the surge in consumer electronics sales has increased awareness of Flash in particular and solid state storage (SSS) solutions in general.This technology, though available for decades, is finding new ways of providing cost effective solutions in a wide range of commercial and governmental information systems. These varied environments, often referred to collectively as enterprise applications, typically require higher performance, reliability, and capacity than demanded in consumer products such as music and video players, mobile phones, PCs, and laptops. Because enterprise-grade solid state storage accesses data directly from RAM or Flash chips, it can achieve input and output data rates far greater than conventional, magnetic storage devices such as hard disk drives (HDD). SSS products are available in a number of form factors (shapes and sizes) and solution types implemented at different points in the data path.Today, vendors offer SSS products in the size and shape of addin cards that plug into server motherboards, HDD form factor modules inserted into existing servers and storage arrays, and stand-alone systems intended to be rack mounted alongside other storage media in a data center. In the past, enterprise SSS solutions have been mostly RAM-based, with batteries and back-up HDDs to ensure data persistence. More recently, NAND Flash-based SSS has been introduced into the marketplace as manufacturers have learned to make it reliable and fast enough to meet enterprise needs.