For a power workstation, which is better (I'm thinking of doing a RAID 5 configuration). 15K RPM serial-attached SCSI drives, or SATA solid state drives?

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That would be a tough choice to make and would depend on what SSD drives are available. I have always heard that SSD drives did not have a great life expectancy if you do a lot of writes to the drives however every site I look at says they are much better now and have the potential to last longer that a standard drive. The problem is that the technology is so new that we don't really have any SSD drives that have been in use for 10 years to examine.
If your running a RAID 5 array your going to get the speed of striped data to and from the array controller by the controller. The company I work for supplies SSD drives and it seems to me that we are replacing a lot of them that have failed and in some cases more than one that failed in an array at a time and we are also doing a lot upgrades to the latest controller firmware due to issues being addressed.

Personally I would say unless you are really in need of much greater speed, go with the SAS array and give the SSD drives time to get out there and get the controller and life expectancy issues fixed.

For a system drive (read-mostly, write occasionally) then an SSD is a good choice (mirrored drives for reliability). For data storage (a lot of writing and over-writing, database, etc) then you want spinning media in a RAID-5 or RAID-10 configuration. The reason for this is that current generation SSD's have a limited number of cell writes before the cell becomes useless. Current SSD controller software mitigates this by trying not to write updates to the same cell, and if you are using well less than 50% of the drive, this is good and gives decent life to an SSD, but not all are created equal. For SSD's, get "industrial" strength devices (pricey). For hard-drive RAID's, get commodity (but good quality) devices. There is always the tradeoffs between price, performance, and longevity.

commented: Agreed. I typically use SSD for OS drives and magnetic storage for everything else. My last SSD has lasted 3 years like this and shows no signs of failure yet. However, the Vertex 2 I used for write-heavy operations and it died within 14 months +11
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