Easier Decisions Through Better Computer Storage Classification

When naming their “Best Business Laptops of 2017,” PC Mag noted that the right desktop can mean the difference between your company running smoothly and not running at all. This can be especially true for a creative professional running a small business that needs the high performance of a workstation.

man working on Dell Precision workstation sitting at desk with two monitors

And, more than ever before, today’s workstations come in an incredibly diverse assortment of form factors with a range of storage options. It can be confusing to determine what you need.

So our team developed a white paper to help you decide on the best storage option for your systems, in terms of performance, without needing to consult a technical guide on the architecture of modern SSDs.

Lost you already? Let me step back a bit.

In the days before solid-state storage devices (SSDs), the complexity of storage usually revolved around whether and what type of redundant array of independent disks (RAID) to use in your systems. Rotational hard disk drives (HDDs) improved in performance and predictability over so many decades, that the selection criteria for these kind of drives narrowed to capacity and rotational speed as performance within these categories was so close between different drives.

As SSDs became more broadly available in lower-priced and higher-capacity packages, we started to see some peculiar performance patterns. Most everyone knows that with each generation the performance was increasingly dramatically in SSDs, distancing them further and further HDDs and exceeding the bandwidth of the SATA III connection. But these “growing pains” had a side effect: increased variation across SSD models. While the same model might provide very consistent results across many different samples of the same drive, different models (especially across different drive vendors) were showing dramatically different performance at the same capacity and using the same interconnect.

Now, much of these differences can be explained by the ingredients inside the SSD – things like the flash type and the controller, or even the bus connection and device protocol. But the complexity of the internal components of the SSD are not something that most workstation customers should have to concern themselves with. They need a better way to distinguish the various devices beyond capacity; something that is relevant to the ways that they use the system in the real world.

Ready to go even deeper now? Dive into our white paper. And feel free to hit me with questions in the comments below.

About the Author: Alex Shows

Alex Shows is a member of Dell’s Technical Staff and Lead Performance Engineer for Client Systems. His role is to ensure platforms deliver the best possible performance within the constraints of their design, working with System Architects and Platform Development Engineers to deliver best-in-class platforms that delight customers and stun competitors. He is also the Chair of the SPECgpc group, developer of the widely used SPECviewperf benchmark. Outside the office, he volunteers his time as a Cub Scout Pack leader and the WatchD.O.G. program. He’s an avid reader, runner, and lifelong learner.