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SSD vs. SATA RAID: A performance benchmark

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Hardware

Solid state drives (SSD) have many advantages over traditional spinning-platter hard drives including no noise, low power and heat generation, good resistance to shock, and most importantly, extremely low seek times. To see just how much an SSD might improve performance, I used Bonnie++ to benchmark a contemporary SSD as it might be used in a laptop computer.

Without going into details, SSDs may use single-level cell (SLC) or multi-level cell storage, with SLC drives typically offering better performance.

SSDs offer different read and write speeds, form factors, and capacity. I looked at several models from Mtron. The performance of the 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch form factors is identical, so you might as well get the 2.5-inch drive because you can use it inside laptops as well as desktop machines. Mtron's Imation-branded drives use the MOBI brand for lower-end "personal" drives and PRO branding for the professional (faster) drive. The professional drive is reported to be about 10% faster in write and 20% better in read performance. The reported seek time is identical.

I used a 32GB 2.5-inch MOBI drive for these tests. Although the professional drive is slightly faster for transfers, it is also about 25-35% more expensive. Because the following tests focus on seek time, you can extrapolate a 10-20% difference to get an idea of the speed of the professional drive.

The 32GB SSD currently costs around $500. By contrast, a 750GB SATA drive can be had for about $130, which means that you can have about 2TB of usable conventional hard disk "spinning storage," or about 60 times as much space as the SSD, protected against a single disk failure in a RAID-5, for the same price as the 32GB SSD.

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