In desktop, laptop and workstations, mechanical hard disks are largely being replaced by solid state drives. When comparing SSD vs HDD, should you also make this move with your servers? We look at the pros and cons of each type of storage so that you can make your decision.
SSD vs HDD - Performance
The main advantage of SSDs is their performance. Traditional hard disks have throughputs of up to 200MB/s (depending on the model and spin speed), but SSDs are far quicker, and the fastest modern drives can read data at up to 3,500MB/s and write at up to 2,100MB/s.
For high-performance servers and applications, solid state storage is by far the best choice.
SSD vs HDD - Power consumption
In use, a typical hard disk uses up to 10W of power, while an SSD will use only around 5W; when idle an SSD will use around 40mW, while a hard disk will use around 1W. This power difference adds up when considering large RAID configurations of drives, meaning that SSDs can give you considerable cost savings on your energy bills for large installations.
Using less power means that SSDs generate less heat, and the cooling requirements can be lower. In turn, cooler computers are generally quieter to run.
SSD vs HDD - Cost
The downside of SSDs is the price. While storage capacities have dramatically increased over the years, hard disks are still far better value and most cost around 3p per gigabyte. Solid state drives may have come down in price a lot, but they're still expensive, and you can expect to pay around 20p to 40p plus per gigabyte.
Where vast amounts of storage are required, hard disks still have a massive advantage and will be the storage format of choice.
SSD vs HDD - Which should I buy?
With modern servers, the truth is that you most likely need a combination of HDDs and SSDs. SSDs make sense as boot drives and for storing major applications, making them quicker to boot, update and run. SSDs also make sense for storage where high-performance applications can use the faster transfer speeds.
HDDs still have their place, and serve well where you need large amounts of storage. This can either be on the server itself or stored externally in a storage rack, such as the Asus S4096Z
SSD vs HDD - What do I need to install SSDs?
If you want to run SSDs on your server, you need a server that can support them. For the best performance, you need a server that has integrated M.2 ports. These ports take small SSDs that are no bigger than a stick of RAM. For the best performance, buy SSDs and use M.2 ports that conform to the NVMe (PCI-E) standard. Older 2.5-inch SATA-based SSDs can be installed on some servers, too. Dedicated 2.5-inch drive bays makes the job easier for fitting these type of drives. The Asus RS300-E9-RS4
has dual M.2 NVMe (PCI-E) slots and an internal 2.5-inch SSD cage.
If your servers don't have 2.5-inch drive bays or M.2 slots, you may be able to fit 2.5-inch SATA-based SSDs into 3.5-inch hard disk bays using an adaptor. Check the server's specifications carefully before you try this, though.