Home > Disk, Price, SPC, SSD > eMLC Part 2: It’s About Price per GB

eMLC Part 2: It’s About Price per GB

I have had the chance to meet with several analysts over the past couple of weeks and have raised the position that with eMLC the long awaited price parity of Tier-1 disks and SSDs is virtually upon us.  I had a mixed set of reactions, from “nope, not yet” to “sorry if I don’t act surprised, but I agree.”  For the skeptics I promised that I would compile some data to back up my claim.

For years the mantra of the SSD vendor was to look at the price per IOPS rather than the price per GB.  The Storage Performance Council provides an excellent source of data that facilitates that comparison in an audited forum with their flagship SPC-1 benchmark.  The SPC requires quite a bit of additional information to be reported for the result to be accepted, which provides an excellent data source when you want to examine the enterprise storage market.   If you bear with me I will walk through a few ways that I look through the data, and I promise that this is not a rehash of the cost per IOPS argument.

First, if you dig through the reports you can see how many disks are included in each solution as well as the total cost.  The chart below is an aggregation of the HDD based SPC-1 submissions showing the reported Total Tested Storage Configuration Price (including three-year maintenance) divided by the number of HDDs reported in the “priced storage configuration components” description.  It covers data from 12/1/2002 to 8/25/2011:

Now, let’s take it as a given that SSD can deliver much higher IOPS than an HDD of equivalent capacity, and price per GB is the only advantage disks bring to the table.  The historical way to get higher IOPS from HDDs was to use lots of drives and short stroke them.  The modern day equivalent is using low capacity, high performance HDDs rather than cheaper high capacity HDDs.  With the total cost of enterprise disk at close to $2,000 per HDD, the $/ GB of enterprise SSDs determines the minimum logical capacity of an HDD.  Here is an example of various SSD $/GB levels and the associated minimum disk capacity points:

Enterprise SSD $/ GB

Minimum HDD capacity

$ 30

67 GB

$ 20

100 GB

$ 10

200 GB

$7

286 GB

$5

400 GB

$3

667 GB

$1

2,000 GB

To get to the point that 300 GB HDD no longer make sense, the enterprise price per GB just needs to be around $7/GB and 146 GB HDDs are gone at around $14/GB.  Keep in mind that this is the price of the SSD capacity before redundancy and overhead to make it comparable to the HDD case.

It’s not fair (or permitted use) to compare audited SPC-1 data with data that has not gone through the same rigorous process, so I won’t make any comparisons here.  However, I think that when looking at the trends, it is clear that the low capacity HDDs that are used for Tier-1 one storage are going away sooner rather than later.

About the Storage Performance Council (SPC)

The SPC is a non-profit corporation founded to define, standardize and promote storage benchmarks and to disseminate objective, verifiable storage performance data to the computer industry and its customers. The organization’s strategic objectives are to empower storage vendors to build better products as well as to stimulate the IT community to more rapidly trust and deploy multi-vendor storage technology.

The SPC membership consists of a broad cross-section of the storage industry. A complete SPC membership roster is available at http://www.storageperformance.org/about/roster/.

A complete list of SPC Results is available at http://www.storageperformance.org/results.

SPC, SPC-1, SPC-1 IOPS, SPC-1 Price-Performance, SPC-1 Results, are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Storage Performance Council (SPC)

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Categories: Disk, Price, SPC, SSD
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