Spinning Rust is (almost) Dead, Part 5, Almost?

The title of this series of posts is “Spinning Rust is Dead”. Well, actually it is “Spinning Rust is (almost) Dead”. Why, given all of the facts, do I say “almost“? Disks are really good at one thing: storing a LOT of data. So for backup, archival, or storing many terabytes of data that gets accessed only occasionally, disks are good. Data centers should really re-think their storage architecture. RAID arrays of eMLC SSD are great for write intensive applications. For primary storage with traditional read-mostly access, SSDs are perfect. And for all that data that may not get accessed this afternoon, or today, or even this week, use arrays of large, inexpensive 4TB enterprise SATA disks. Having tiers of 10,000 rpm disks and 15,000 rpm disks is a big, slow, power-hungry alternative for native SSD storage. There are now a variety of ways to add a layer of SSDs into your storage architecture, or in front of it and then use expensive software that will try to guess – without knowing your data or your application – what data it should cache in SSD to make things run faster. The term “kluge” comes to mind.

I think the same logic applies all the way down to the home desktop or laptop system. Use a $100 40GB SSD to boot and store your programs and keep all of your stuff – photos and videos and movies and music – on a big 4TB HDD for $200. Of course, I’d never tell anyone to put something on ONE disk, so either mirror that 4TB disk or back it up to the cloud. Regularly! After all, its all your stuff. Ask anyone you know with an SSD in their notebook or desktop. Once you’ve used one, you can not go back to spinning rust.

Linus Torvalds is the original creator and top-level kernel maintainer of Linux. He answered a series of questions for slahdot.org last year, including a brief answer on storage. The highlight for me was this statement, “I personally refuse to use a machine that has those nasty platters of spinning rust in them.” See the whole interview at http://meta.slashdot.org/story/12/10/11/0030249/linus-torvalds-answers-your-questions .

Spinning Rust, the hard disk drive, is a 50-year old electro-mechanical technology, like the rotary dial telephones we used until 1970 or 1980. Would you trade in your smart phone for one of those? (Do you even know what I am talking about?) Then why use a rotating, mechanical hard disk instead of a Solid State Drive?

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