Many customers look for SSD for their dedicated servers or web hosting plans. Little do they know about which type of SSD their servers are using. SSDs can be categorized into enterprise SSD and consumer-grade SSD (also called as client-grade SSD). The former one is designed for 24/7 enterprise operation and offers a higher standard for performance and endurance than the latter one. Let us compare their features and explain why you should choose enterprise SSD instead of consumer-grade SSD for your dedicated servers.
SSD endurance (or SSD lifetime) is generally specified either in Full Drive Writes Per Day (DWPD) for a certain warranty period or Terabytes Written (TBW). If you have a 100GB SSD with 1 DWPD, then it can handle 100GB of data being written to it every day for the warranty period. TBW represents how much data can be written to the drive over the lifetime of the drive. The higher the TBW number, the better the endurance.
SSDs are often more limited in their capability to write than in their ability to read. This is because each flash cell supports only a finite number of erase and write cycles before it wears out. Subsequent writes tend to occur more slowly. Enterprise SSDs are designed for 24/7 operation and able to handle many read and write workloads such as database files, indexes, logs and other high-transaction types of operations. In contrast, consumer-grade SSDs are typically built to operate 8 – 10 hours per day and 5 days per week. It tends to have lower endurance than enterprise SSDs and wear out quickly for a high-write workload. Furthermore, performance will be lower when you use consumer-grade SSDs to write data continuously over long periods.
Enterprise SSDs are further segmented into two categories: read-intensive and write-intensive. Write intensive enterprise SSDs such as Samsung SM883 series can sustain up to 3 drive writes per day (DWPD), with sequential write speeds of up to 520 MB/sec. They are suitable for write-intensive workloads and have better endurance. On the other hand, read-intensive enterprise SSDs such as Samsung PM883 series can sustain up to 1.3 drive writes per day (DWPD), with faster sequential read speeds of up to 550 MB/sec. They are affordable alternatives to SM883, able to handle heavy mixed workloads with reduced latency. This is suitable for various servers, including web, streaming, application and cache servers. When you choose enterprise SSD, you should pay attention to the DWPD and/or TBW numbers as well as the length of the warranty.
SSDs are built on NAND cells. The earliest enterprise SSDs often used single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash, which stores one bit per cell and offers the highest levels of performance and endurance. By increasing the number of bits that can be stored in each cell, manufacturers can increase the capacity of the SSDs and lower the cost per bit. However, it may also lower the endurance of SSDs. Enterprise SSDs are often single-level cell (SLC) or multi-level cell (MLC). In contrast, consumer-grade SSDs are typically triple-level cell (TLC) or even quad-level cells (QLC). Even if a consumer-grade SSD and an enterprise SSD both use MLC, the enterprise SSD are likely to have higher number of write cycles. This is because Enterprise Multi-Level Cell (eMLC) drives come with an intelligent controller that can extend SSDs’ useful life and increase usable write performance by increasing the over-provisioning. In other words, it reserves more spare cells for use in the event of chip wear-out or failure.
With the improvement in NAND flash technology, Samsung created the first 3D NAND SSD (also called as V-NAND SSD) in 2012, which is denser, faster and less expensive to produce than traditional 2D (planar) NAND. Samsung SM883 series is one of its MLC 3D V-NAND SSD.
|General Use Cases|
|SLC||1||2||Very High||Not commonly found, used in the highest read-and-write performance applications.|
|MLC||2||4||High-to-Med||General usage with a wide variety of write lifetimes.|
|TLC||3||8||Med-to-Low||Large consumer adoption. Often optimal price-to-endurance ratio for medium performance applications.|
|QLC||4||16||Very Low||Not generally available, but envisioned for write-once-read-many (WORM) type archive applications.|
Error Case Handling
The key difference between enterprise SSD and consumer-grade SSD is error case handling. Unexpected power failure, random bit flips in the controller or data path, and other flash errors can cause data corruption. Enterprise SSDs have power loss protection. They make use of protection capacitors on the PCB to supply enough power to run the SSD and complete any uncompleted writes left in RAM before they discharge in an unexpected power failure. Enterprise SSDs also have end-to-end data path protection to prevent corrupted data being written into flash.
All in all, dedicated servers that need to handle enterprise workloads are highly recommended to use enterprise SSDs. They have better endurance, greater level of over-provisioning, more consistent performance, lengthier warranty and better data protection than customer-grade SSDs.
Our dedicated servers and SSD storage servers are using Intel data center-class or Samsung enterprise SSDs that are optimized for write-intensive or mixed workloads. Feel free to contact our sales by phone +852 3959 1888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any enquiries about our servers.