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Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest

MySpace Using SSDs

Glenn Barry (blog, twitter) posted a note about MySpace using Fusion-IO PCi-E cards to replace hard drives in their systems. It’s an idea that’s been touted and I know there have been SQL people asking about it over the last year or so. There’s a nice case being made for their use in application servers, and MySpace has a white paper that’s worth reading as well on the Fusio-IO site.

However no one has really given us a good reference and more importantly, I was talking with some MVPs at the recent PASS Summit that have some heavily used systems. They are running thousands of transactions / sec and they said that they’d tested SSDs, but none of the manufacturers’ drives could stand up to their load. Within an hour or two they said they could burn out an SSD since the chips only allow so many writes and heat can be a factor.

So who’s correct? I don’t know. I think the workload matters quite a bit. I would like to think that these SSDs are perfect for quick tempdb work, but with all the constant write/read of tempdb, maybe that’s not the case. Maybe they’re better for indexes that are heavily read. I would love to test some for SSC, but I’m not sure if I could get them into our servers, or if I could publish if I had demo units.

I’ve been interested in testing one on my laptop even since hearing about Andy Warren’s experiences. My Toshiba Qosmio has 2 bays in it and I had some recent issues, which made me wish for a second drive in there, just in case. Then I saw Chad Miller recently post on Twitter that he’d ordered an SSD for his laptop. He got a RunCore 64GB drive from MyDigitalDiscount.

I have a 16GB SSD on my netbook, and it’s worked fine for me. However it’s hard to get an idea of any speed difference since the Atom processor is likely the bottleneck in performance on that machine. I might spent the $200 and get a drive for my laptop and see if it performs any different. One thing I need to do is get it upgraded to Win 7, benchmark it, and then consider getting an SSD in there with a second install of the OS. That would give me a spare bootable OS in case something happened to the SSD.

One thing I’ll also note is that when looking at prices at NewEgg I found there to be some substantial issues with Win 7 and some of these drives reporting in user reviews. Corsair, who I’ve often used for memory, has had a number of issues reported on their products. Not sure if these are older drives, old firmware, etc, but be sure you do some research before you buy one.

Comments

Posted by Tim Moss on 24 December 2009

I replaced the HDD in my Dell D820 (running Windows 7 64bit) with an SSD from Crucial (Lexar/Micron) and the machine just flies.  Applications are so fast to start up.

We're just about to start testing moving tempdb onto standard SATA SSDs for an application that creates some big temporary tables and then queries them further

In another write intensive application we're going to try putting the relevant transation logs on the SSDs

If this works well then we may well look at the various PCI-E options. A number of firms are now doing them with PhotoFast getting some good reviews (IIRC)

If people are serious about using SSDs then Sun have some interesting products - their 5100 Flash Array is all solid state supposedy resulting in 1m IOPS and their 71xx series of storage controllers can intelligently use SSDs in a hybrid pool of storage to accelerate reads and write appropriately.

All change on the storage front!

I recently saw one interesting article saying that people can't just blindly replace HDDs with SSDs as the storage controllers will suddenly become the bottleneck - not having been designed for the SSD performance.

I think this is where the PCI-E type devices will come into their own.

Posted by -- Cranfield on 29 December 2009

All I can say is that I can't wait to start testing the Fusion-Io PCI cards we'll get into our lab next year. If they do what they say and work in an enterprise environment then they will be the next big thing...

Posted by helium on 15 January 2010

I am an employee of Fusionio and ex softie. We have deployed a number fo high transaction count (40k+ random IOs per sec) sql instances in emea on Fusion and i would be hjappy to talk to anyone about that without doing the hard sell. :)

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