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Server SSD Solutions

Which Server Storage Drives Should I Choose?

Internal storage drives intended for use in servers and datacentres are optimised for performance, reliability, and endurance, in order to help eliminate bottlenecks and modernise your infrastructure to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of digital business. However, just as you choose your server specification based on its intended use and required performance, the same has to be said for the storage you deploy in that server. Depending on whether the storage is first-line cache, general access or archive capacity, will determine which type of storage to choose – including both its connectivity and performance.

It is fair to say that flash storage (solid state drives or SSDs) is now very common in servers due to their rapid access, added resilience due to lack of moving parts and lower power consumption. Where the highest performance is required, technologies such as NVMe interfaces and Intel Optane coupled with the advantage of PCIe 4.0 speeds are the drives of choice. Having said that, enterprise-grade spinning disks (hard disk drives or HDDs) are still the obvious choice for less-performance sensitive archived data. Indeed, a tiered approach is often recommended to make best use of price and performance, often in combination with external tape and / or cloud elements to complete the data management landscape.

Server Drive Interfaces and Sizes

On top of the types of drive technology, there are a number of drive formats to choose from - firstly the traditional 3.5in size, a smaller 2.5in size offering smaller capacities but greater density and fewer single points of failure. Lastly there is an M.2 size which is much more compact.These sizes may also dictate the type of interface used, as not all feature every available option, as the table below summarises.

Form Factor SATA SAS U.2 NVMe M.2 NVMe
3.5"
Yes
Yes
No
No
2.5"
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
M.2
Yes
No
No
Yes

Within a server it is common that the OS will sit on separate drives to the applications and data, so with this in mind an M.2 SSD is ideal. Firstly, large capacities are not required for the OS, and secondly it keeps hot-swap drive bays free for data storage. It is also worth considering a second SSD to provide redundancy and failover for the OS.

For data storage it again depends on usage, as we mentioned earlier - large file sizes and / or regular access requirement will benefit from SSDs, where media to be read, or archive / back-up files will be best on HDD. As a typical server chassis will take many more drives than a desktop or workstation (up to 24 is not uncommon), then choice of 2.5in or 3.5in format does play a more important part. Smaller drives will be more power efficient whether HDD or SSD, but for an array of many drives SSD will win out as they need no vibration resistance and offer greater stability.

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M.2 SSD

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M.2 SSD

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Add-in-card PCIe SSD

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EDSFF SSD

In a very high performance server it may be appropriate to use PCIe add-in card SSDs to gain maximum throughput and minimum latency. Similarly where storage density is key, the newer EDSFF (Enterprise and Data Center SSD Form Factor) or ‘Ruler’ drives will soon offer up to 1PB of data storage in just 1U of rack depth.

You can learn more about the different types of drive technologies, interfaces and sizes by reading our Internal Storage Buyers Guide. This guide also covers RAID options and settings to ensure data integrity and security.

View Internal Storage Buyers Guide

External Storage Solutions

No matter what internal storage requirements you may have for your servers, there may also be a use for external storage devices, such as NAS or enterprise arrays capable of deduplication and advanced archiving functions. Here at Scan IT we have a great range to compliment your server installations.

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