Sun prepares to strip hard drives from servers

In a bid to remove hard drives from servers, Sun on Tuesday announced that it will offer solid-state drives (SSDs) later this year as a replacement for spinning disk drives.

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In a bid to remove hard drives from servers, Sun on Tuesday announced that it will offer solid-state drives (SSDs) later this year as a replacement for spinning disk drives.

Flash-based SSDs will improve application performance on servers and save on energy costs by consuming up to five times less energy than hard drives, the company said. Flash drives are also known to be more rugged than hard drives as they have no moving parts.

By mid-2009, flash SSD will be on most servers, said John Fowler, vice president of the systems group at Sun. It will deliver more storage capacity than RAM and improve overall server performance, Fowler said.

Barring datacenters, the adoption of flash storage has been slow in the enterprise due to high cost per gigabyte. A 128G-byte SSD costs US$460, or $3.58 per gigabyte, compared to $60 for a 160G-byte hard drive, said Krishna Chander, senior analyst at iSuppli. It will take three to four years for SSDs to come to parity with hard drives on price, Chander said.

However, flash-based SSDs prices per gigabyte are falling between 50 to 70 percent annually compared to Fibre Channel hard disk drives, which are witnessing a 40 percent year-on-year price decline, Fowler said. As the prices fall, SSDs will ship in larger volumes, Fowler said.

Sun's SSDs will be optimized for MySQL database and other leading applications, according to the company. The drive will work with Solaris ZFS (Zettabyte File Systems), the file system for the Solaris OS.

The drives will start shipping in the second half of this year. Pricing information or storage capacity of the SSD drives was not immediately available. Sun said users will be able to try the drive for 60 days before buying it.

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