So which SSD should you use?

July 8, 2015

Adaptec produces compatibility reports on a regular basis. We are always testing our equipment against the components that we work with – motherboards, chassis, backplanes and of course drives. The CR reports can be found at: http://www.adaptec.com/compatibility

While many people follow these reports as gospel, we have a lot of customers who do their own testing and use what they regard as suitable equipment before we get around to testing a particular product.

Here in Australia there are 3 very popular brands of SSD: Intel, SanDisk and Samsung. They are all good drives with their own particular advantages and strong points. They also have a lot of different models, not all of which the vendors design for use in RAID environments, but which users often use with our controllers for some very effective/efficient storage solutions.

Ironically, I find that a lot of people base their usage on “the drive they trust” vs any real technical data. I’m a big believer in gut-feelings, and it seems I’m not on my own. Just as in spinning drives where many a user will say “I use Seagate only – never had a problem”, or “WD are the only drives I trust”, users will also have their own feelings regarding SSDs, for example: “we have tested SanDisk Extreme Pro and they offer the best value for money when developing a high-performance server” (direct quote from one of my customers).

So … does the fact that a drive is not on our CR mean that it’s no good? No, often it means we just haven’t tested that drive yet. There are far too many on the market for us to test them all. It’s also a case that different regions have different product availability (Asia/Pacific can’t buy some drives that can be found in the US and Europe), so finding the drive you want to use on the CR is not always possible.

The obvious and, in reality, only answer is: make sure you test your drives carefully before using them in large scale environments. You should also take into account the style of data that you are putting on the SSDs. In a read-intensive environment most drives will perform very well and last a long, long time. However if your environment exposes the RAID array to massive intensive writes, then I would strongly suggest sticking to datacenter/enterprise specific high-end SSDs to ensure the lifespan of the drive meets user requirements.

So in the end … should you only use drives on our CR? I’d like to say yes, but I know that is never going to happen. So talk to your drive vendors, talk to Adaptec, test your drives, then make your decisions and monitor your systems. The practical reality is that while there are a lot of different drives for a lot of different purposes, I’m finding as a general rule that SSDs are far more reliable, far faster and less troublesome than the short-term urban myths would have us believe.

Ciao
N

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