Large SSD arrays are pressed into service in some bleeding edge applications, but the majority of deployments center around small SSD arrays utilized to accelerate existing infrastructure. SSDs are one of the premium tiers of storage in today's datacenter, and the higher cost per GB necessitates intelligent use of the available capacity through caching and tiering models.
Flash products can be used as dedicated storage volumes, but to maximize the benefits of SSDs, many deployments consist of small SSD arrays used as front-ends for large HDD storage pools and SAN's. This can be an easy solution to accelerate the underlying storage and increase CPU utilization in the host system. Deploying the SSDs can be a simple slip-in solution, especially when used in tandem with integrated caching solutions from the leading RAID manufacturers.
The flexibility of smaller arrays also allows their utilization as a replacement for caching data in RAM, providing a higher level of data security due to the non-volatile nature of NAND. All of these deployment models require a solid platform that scales well, providing the best return on investment for administrators.
The Intel DC S3700 series of SSDs came with a renewed focus on latency consistency in enterprise SSDs. While many lower-class SSDs can suffer from significant performance variability, this can be an acceptable trade-off for cost-sensitive applications that do not require maximum performance or RAID usage. For use in RAID environments, these lower quality SSDs can result in significant loss of available performance due to poor scaling.
For those in the market for an upper-tier SSD with superb latency performance, the Intel DC S3700 is a good fit. For the price, it delivers superb latency consistency that equates to a boost in real-life applications. The unique architecture of the LBA mapping tables allows the Intel to operate in a very efficient manner, and the regular cadence of the garbage collection routines keep the SSD within a very tightly defined performance envelope. Surprisingly, these remarkably precise garbage collection routines are even visible when used with eight SSDs in a RAID configuration.
Providing a consistent level of performance allows the Intel DC S3700 Series to provide excellent scaling in RAID configurations. In write intensive applications, the importance of good scaling is especially pertinent. SSDs with significant variability do not scale well in RAID configurations, especially in heavy write workloads. Poor scaling results in an accelerated diminishing point of returns, a frustrating experience for users making significant investments.
The Intel DC S3700 performed well in our testing, and in write-intensive and RAID environments will prove to be a good fit for those in need of a simple means of workload acceleration.