New Solid-State Option Available to Users of Amazon’s Block Storage Cloud

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Amazon Web Services has added a new “General Purpose” Solid-State Drive volume type to its Amazon Elastic Block Store service, offering performance to meet many applications where performance is crucial.

The availability of General Purpose (SSD) volumes comes years after Amazon’s initial SSD-based block storage offering, which launched in 2012. Known as Amazon EBS Provisioned IOPS (SSD) volumes, this is still available as an option for users with I/O-intensive workloads such as large databases.

EBS customers can also still opt for a magnetic hard disk version with a significantly slower 40-200 IPOS per volume, but which is ideal for infrequent data access. It is also a cheaper option, being available for $0.05 per GB per month in the US East region vs. $0.10 per GB per month for General Purpose (SSD) or $0.12 per GB per month for Provisioned IOPS (SSD).

Among the three distinct EBS options now available, the new General Purpose (SSD) volumes are now the default EBS volume type for Amazon EC2 instances. And unlike the other options, I/O is included in the price of General Purpose (SSD) volumes, so users only pay only for each GB of storage provisioned.

According to Amazon, General Purpose (SSD) volumes are suitable for workloads such as small to medium-sized databases, development and test environments, and boot volumes. They are able to burst to 3,000 IOPS per volume (independent of volume size) and deliver a consistent baseline of 3 IOPS per GB.

For more consistently higher performance, Amazon recommends Provisioned IOPS (SSD) volumes, which support up to 30 IOPS per GB, which enables you to provision 4,000 IOPS on a volume as small as 134 GB.

Rising performance requirements and dropping SSD prices have caused more and more cloud providers to offer SSD storage. Recently, web host Rackspace had difficulty keeping up with demand for its SSD-based Cloud Block storage service. And SolidFire recently launched a storage array designed to provide fast, block storage for OpenStack clouds, allowing scaling from 60 TB to 3.4 PB.

Solid-state storage will be finding its way into more and more cloud services, and Amazon will help precipitate this transition.

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