The Ripple Effects of Flash

Sumit Sadana
EVP, Chief Strategy Officer & GM, Enterprise Solutions-SanDisk Corporation
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Sumit Sadana
Flash memory is rapidly overtaking spinning hard disk drives (HDDs) as the storage technology of choice in PCs, notebook computers, and moving into data centers to improve the performance of storage systems and servers. The move to flash, however, involves more than just an upgrade from one storage medium to another. It is fostering a once-in-a-generation transformation that will have profound repercussions on how IT systems are designed, deployed, and used. It can be likened to the shift from vacuum tubes to transistors in the 1950s. With flash, organizations will get more value and far more work out of smaller, more powerful data centers that will also cost less to own and manage. Startups will scale more rapidly than ever and established companies to roll out new and innovative services.

Change That Will Reverberate Through Digital History
The key to understanding this transition is that hard drives are mechanical devices, in some ways more akin to the fan inside your laptop. SSDs, by contrast, don't contain moving parts 'just moving electrons' and the flash storage technology will steadily improve in performance and storage density thanks in part to trends embodied in Moore's Law.

These benefits have put HDDs at an inherent disadvantage. Mechanical devices break, consume inordinate HDDs has peaked at 15K rpm, a key metric of performance, for over 15 years. Making them any faster would require additional energy, according to analysts.

The one frontier where HDDs have historically had an edge 'price per GB comparisons' is also dwindling. Lenovo now sells a 4TB solid state drive for servers at a lower cost per GB than an equivalent amount of capacity fulfilled with 15K drives.

The debate in favor of SSDs could end there, but in reality it's just the beginning. The real advantage of SSDs is their ability to enable you to optimize data centers because of the speed, reliability, and performance you get with solid state technology.

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