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I'm building a new server which will be running a text search service for our online web services. This service requires fast IO so I am trying to further reduce any potential bottlenecks. I would love to hear some recommendations on SSD's (or alternatives), hardware controllers, make and models, good stories, bad stories, or anything else relevant. The indexes this service will be building should be small so I think a 64GB drive would be much more than adequate.

Thanks in advance!

edit: the budget I have to work with would be around $4,000 CDN.

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Did you consider a RAM disk? – knweiss Sep 28 '09 at 17:34
If you only need 64G of storage you should really consider just caching everything in RAM. You can get a Sun Fire X4170 with 72GB of RAM and 1TB+ of hard disk storage for less than $10k. – Amok Sep 28 '09 at 18:24
That's a great idea but unfortunately if power to our operations center was ever cut we would lose our index. Rebuilding that index would take a considerable amount of time. Our operations center has its own backup power systems but these only have enough capacity for approx. 30 minutes. – JohnyD Sep 30 '09 at 14:30
I didn't consider a ram disk at first but then thought that it would also be succeptible to power failure / loss of index. After further reading there are ram disk software solutions which provide protection against this by writing out to disk, with a performance hit of course. Could you suggest any capable products? – JohnyD Sep 30 '09 at 14:36
I think if you just have a machine with 64G of ram then the OS should cache all its reads. You don't have to buy a SunFire for that, you can get PCs that powerful. If you have control over the database architecture, make it write updates into disk and ramdisk then you can rebuild the ramdisk from the physical disk copy whenever you reboot/lose power. – pjc50 Oct 1 '09 at 12:37
up vote 3 down vote accepted

fusion-io is doing some interesting stuff with SSD storage on PCIe cards. The drives aren't very large, but sounds like that isn't an issue for you.

I've seen a pretty impressive demo, but haven't bought one myself yet.

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I've used the HP blade versions of the fusionIO and it's literally astonishing - I couldn't find a use for it because everything I do needs to be clustered in one way or another, needing shared storage but there's no doubt that they're about the fastest way to do non-cached storage today. – Chopper3 Sep 28 '09 at 16:12
I have tested a fusionIO before and it is the equivilant of 8 OCZ Summits in a RAID 0. It got a 5200 PerforanceTest DiskMark score (a good SSD gets 800). – BLAKE Sep 29 '09 at 1:45
FusionIO's IODrives is exactly what I'm looking for. After hearing back from their International Partner Manager... the costs are too much. In case anyone is interested: 80GB ioDrive - $3,600 SLC NAND 160GB ioDrive - $6,995 SLC NAND 320GB ioDrive - $7,495 MLC NAND 320GB DUO - $13,990 SLC NAND 640GB DUO - $14,990 MLC NAND – JohnyD Sep 30 '09 at 14:37
Just an update: FusionIO's recently-announced "extreme" 80GB model is supposed to cost around $900 -- see their website. – Ben M Oct 24 '09 at 19:17

Could you tell us your approximate budget? For super tight budgets you could use the Intel X25-M drive, around $300 for 80GB. Then there's a step up to the Intel X25-E drive, around $800 for 64GB. Both of these are standard SATA drives. Then a big jump in both price and performance to the 80GB fusionio SSD PCI-e card for around $3,500.

One thing in particular to look at is IO per second, or IOPS. Often SSD reviews will only quote you the maximum transfer rates, but the really important stat is usually IOPS. Especially for doing things like database queries or searches.

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I've been doing some reading on Intel's X25-E and this seems like a very capable product well within our budget, especially since our index will be well under 32GB for the foreseeable future. Thanks for the suggestions! – JohnyD Sep 30 '09 at 14:39

Another PCIe card similar to fusion-io is OCZ. You can get larger drives, but you will pay some big bucks. But if you need the performance (upwards of 750 MB/s) it might be worth it. It's still cheaper than SAN drives.

I don't have any anecdotal information... you are on the bleeding edge.

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Personally, I'd suggest looking at RAID10 across, say, 4 SATA-II channels with something like these: 256GB (700USD ea) or 128GB (285USD ea).

I presume a RAID0 would work, too - and may be faster? Not sure on that, though :)

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