Peripherals I Want For IBM i Boxes: Cheap SATA SSDs
February 13, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Let me make this as simple as I can: Any neat new storage or peripheral gadget I see being announced for System x rack or tower servers, I want to see available in Power Systems machines supporting the IBM i operating system. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Here’s a case in point. In announcement letter 112-013 last week, IBM announced new solid state disks based on multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory and sporting 6 Gb/sec SATA interfaces. These SSDs came in 128 GB and 256 GB capacities and in 2.5-inch form factors. They burn somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 watts and have enterprise data protection features to keep data from being lost as flash cells die (this is normal) and are run through IBM’s rigorous ServerProven program. They come with simple swamp and hot swamp options and are perfect for loading up an operating system or other parts of the system that you want to have a lot of cheap I/O for data flying into and out of the system bus.
These tiny little SSDs, while being branded “entry” by IBM, are still powerful and sturdy enough able to run Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and 5, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, and VMware ESX Server 3.5 and 4.0. These are not toy operating systems or hypervisors, any more than IBM i is a toy.
These new SSDs are not available until February 28, and IBM did not provide pricing on them. But I have to assume they are fairly inexpensive and might find good–if somewhat temporary–uses at many IBM i shops. Also last week, just for comparison, Intel launched a 6 Gb/sec SATA SSD drive, the SSD 520 series, that spans from 60 GB to 480 GB with wholesale prices from Intel ranging from $149 to $999 when bought in 1,000-unit quantities. On entry machines, the combination SSD and SAS controller special that IBM has been selling for a little more than a year will run you on the order of $20,000 for 708 GB of usable capacity. This is great if you have the cash. But at some point, it makes as much sense to burn through the cheaper SATA SSDs.