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Flash

By Steve Jones,

I've know some interesting Flashes in my life. There's Flash from the comic books and the Justice League (And a brief TV production as well). He was the earliest Flash I had exposure to. Then there's Flash Gordon (ah, he'll save every one of us). That one was great in high school, and I shared that with my kids last year. They got a kick out of it.

In the SQL Server world, there' s a new Flash. It takes the form of Solid State Drives (SSDs) and I see more and more questions and comments from people starting to use these drives. Most of the notes I've read  are from people putting them into laptops, which is definitely something I'd like to try. Anything that makes my laptop run quicker is something I'm interested in.

I have seen a few queries about people using SSDs in servers. I've also seen a lot more people question the lifetime of SSD drives. Writes and rewrites are an issue with some flash memory, but I have talked to a few people that have used SSDs for some time are thrilled with the performance, and haven't seen any issues. I wish I could quote people, but so far I don't have any sources outside vendors that can publish anything.

Could there be issues? Sure. We still have issues with batches of HDDs at times, however using SANs and   RAID sometimes mask these issues to the DBA or developer. However it seems as though SSDs are going to become more and more commonplace over the next few years. I doubt they'll eliminate the need for HDDs, but I think we'll use them more and more. Tom's Hardware has a very interesting review of one drive.

For SQL Server professionals, that means that we'll likely have some tiered storage. I can see SSDs being used for tempdb as a start, but also working their way into those hot spots, or high transaction tables. And that means learning to deal with multiple data files and likely filegroups, a skill that is weak for most DBAs .

I'm sure this technology will continue to evolve, and eventually we'll have 1TB sized flash memory drives that live in our servers, and possibly even laptops or phones. That's quite a few years away, but for now I'd urge SQL Server professionals to learn more about dealing with multiple types of storage and perhaps experimenting with how SSDs might fit on your servers.

Steve Jones


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