Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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1/25/2007
11:18 AM
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Discuss: Will SATA Rule Enterprise Storage?

All the research data agrees: SATA already acoounts for the overwhelming majority of all desktop drives currently being sold, and is well on its way to taking the lead in notebook storage too. However, most analysts expect that enterprise storage will remain predominately SCSI, although I'm not so sure about it.

All the research data agrees: SATA already acoounts for the overwhelming majority of all desktop drives currently being sold, and is well on its way to taking the lead in notebook storage too. However, most analysts expect that enterprise storage will remain predominately SCSI, although I'm not so sure about it.As I wrote in my column:

By most measures, SCSI still offers better performance than SATA (especially in multi-user applications), and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) is positioned to maintain the performance advantage for the next few years as it takes over from parallel SCSI in new systems. However, the same technology that makes it faster also saddles SAS devices with a cost premium that is several multiples of the cost-per-gigabyte of SATA, and this presents a real challenge to SCSI. [...]

Many [multi-user] systems have used SCSI simply because it has historically been the only real option available, and not because of its performance characteristics. (The number of cheap and slow SCSI controllers out there provide much support for this argument.) But with the availability of moderately fast SATA drives with multi-year warrantees and features like native hot-swapping and command queuing, SCSI is no longer the only game in town for server-class storage.

There are other factors too, such as the fact that a basic RAID of cheap SATA drives is already able to saturate a gigabit Ethernet (which makes them "good enough" for basic duties), while high-end SATA RAID controllers in conjunction with 10k RPM drives are able to push out multiples of that, all at a fraction of the cost of similar SAS setups.

I'm curious to hear what other folks think about this. Will you be adopting SAS across your entire server line, or will you be limiting the technology to applications that demand it (such as database servers), and using good-enough SATA elsewhere? Will SAS be the king of enterprise storage or a high-performance niche technology?

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