IBM Enterprise SSD drives have up to a 5 x cost uplift over consumer SSD drives, why is this?

  • IBM

The main difference between consumer drives and enterprise drives is the drive endurance, or the amount of data that can be written to the SSD before it wears out. SSD endurance is defined by Program/Erase cycles, which gives an indication of how many write cycles a cell can perform before it can no longer store data. The number of P/E cycles and the capacity of the drive give the overall endurance of the drive, often measured as TBW (Terabytes Written). SSD endurance is a combination of the size of the transistors used in the cells (measures in nm), the number of bits per cell (1 or 2 in enterprise SSDs, 2 or 3 in consumer SSDs), and the algorithms used in the SSD controller.

Typical enterprise drives have P/E ranges of 20,000-100,000, whereas consumer SSDs have P/E values of 1,000-5,000. This means typical enterprise SSDs can have their full capacity written to them 5-10 times a day, and still last for 5+ years. Consumer SSDs, however, can only have 0.5-1 times their full capacity written to them each day in order to last 5 years.

IBM currently has three ranges of SSD available.

IBM SATA 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch MLC Enterprise Value SSDs Announced in March 2012, available in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities, and in 1.8″ and 2.5″ form factors. These value SSDs are based on technology that’s similar to consumer-grade, but are tested, validated and packaged for use in an enterprise environment, and have corresponding warranties. List prices are about 1.5-2 times that of similar capacity consumer drives.

Enterprise Solid State Drives for IBM System x Servers Announced in April 2011, available in 50GB and 200GB capacities, and in 1.8″ and 2.5″ form factors. These SSDs are early enterprise drives, and offer 5+ years of endurance.

IBM SAS 2.5-inch MLC Enterprise SSDs for IBM System x Announced in March 2013, available in 200GB, 400GB, 800GB capacities, and in 1.8″, 2.5″ and 3.5″ form factors. These SSDs use the latest enterprise technology, and are rated for 10 full-drive-capacity writes for 5 years. They therefore carry a significant price premium over consumer drives and older enterprise drives.

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