IBM adding SSD technology to blade servers

SanDisk's Serial ATA 5000 2.5-inch solid-state drive will be offered as a data storage option for the IBM BladeCenter HS21 XM

IBM Tuesday announced that SanDisk's Serial ATA 5000 2.5-in. solid-state drive will be offered as a data storage option for the IBM BladeCenter HS21 XM blade server by the end of July.

By implementing storage flash technology from SanDisk into its Intel-based, high-end HS21 XM blade, IBM is inching closer to removing critical components of blade systems that can fail and lead to downtime, remarked Scott Tease, worldwide marketing manager for BladeCenter at IBM.

"Anything that has moving parts tends to cause problems for server administrators," noted Tease. "[But] there is a comfort feeling of having images stored locally on blades and customers are just not willing to give that up. That's where flash comes in."

According to Tease, SanDisk's flash drive uses up to 87 percent less power than two spinning hard disk drives, helping to soften rising data center costs. More specifically, by integrating the SanDisk technology with the HS21 XM, energy consumption can be shaved by as much as 18 watts per blade, 252 watts per chassis and 1,512 watts per server rack, Tease said.

Storage analysts have said that adoption rates for solid-state drives will rise significantly over the next three to five years as end users and manufacturers choose to deploy the technology as an alternative to hard disk drives due to the reduced power requirements, heat generation, and improved performance and seek times.

In fact, Tease said that IBM's preference is for customers to not have any spinning disk at all on the blade, but rather to rely on externally attached storage devices for shared-storage purposes. However, he acknowledged that spinning disks are still the better fit in areas where additional capacity or faster write performance is required.

Tease said he envisions future potential for developments such as hybrid disk drives where cache lives in an appliance based on flash, or flash built onto blades to host hypervisor.

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