Most people are already aware that solid-state server and storage disks only use a portion-as little as one-half or less-of the electrical power that a spinning hard disk requires, simply because there are no moving parts that need energy to activate them.
As SSDs move slowly but surely into the data center, noticeable dribs and drabs of bottom-line power savings are starting to become reality.
However, when the full extent of the potential power savings of SSDs is projected a few years out, it's a much different story. Those motionless NAND flash disks promise to provide staggering power savings.
In a report issued May 6, "Leveraging HDD Strength With SSD Potential: Can Collaboration Generate Synergistic Benefits?" SSD market researcher iSuppli said the increased deployment of SSDs could enable the world's data centers to reduce their cumulative electricity consumption by a whopping 166,643 megawatt hours from 2008 to 2013.
This amounts to slightly more than the total electricity generation of the African nation of Gambia for the entire year of 2006, according to power usage statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The energy savings from using SSDs in data centers is expected to rise to about 58,000 Mwh by 2013, up from 7,000 Mwh in 2008-a total of 167,000 Mwh for the entire six-year period.
Conservative estimate: 10 percent switchover to SSDs by 2013
"SSDs potentially could replace 10 percent of the high-end and high-RPM hard disk drives used in data centers that are 'short stroked' [used for rapid reads and writes of transactional data coming into these drives at fast speeds]," said Krishna Chander, iSuppli senior analyst for storage systems.
"Each of these 15,000 RPM serial-attached SCSI (SAS) drives draws about 14 watts during [a normal] day. SSDs, on the other hand, draw about half the power of these HDDs, at an estimated 7 watts. A 50 percent savings in power consumption is a noticeable improvement, so even a small penetration of SSDs in enterprise data centers could result in massive power savings," Chandler said.
Currently, SSDs in data centers are used almost exclusively to power high-speed transactional applications, such as financial services, Web 2.0 services and the like. NAND flash read/write speeds are commonly 100 times faster than those of spinning hard disks.
According to most SSD industry analysts, a 10 percent changeover from HDDs to SSDs over the next four years in high-end, high-transactional data centers is a conservative estimate. Some believe that due to current economic conditions and pressure from the public to "get greener," companies are looking to save money on power consumption in any way they can, as quickly as they can.