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I don’t know about you, but I think it’s about time to give up on marketing and positioning hard drives by rotations per minute (RPM).  Here are 5 reasons why the days of marketing the RPM spec in the enterprise/data center space should be over:

1. Customers pay for IOPS, not RPMs.  RPMs or spin speed is just a means to an end. It does not communicate effectively what the disk drive is capable of delivering in terms of performance.  It’s like the old CD-RW drives that were spec’d at 8x, 12x, 24x – and we know those days are long gone.  The real measure of performance is IOPS or Input/Output Operations per Second. If you look at how Rackspace and Amazon market cloud compute, or how quickly Big Data can be analyzed, it’s all about IOPS.

2. The rise of Flash.  When it comes to maximizing IOPS (reason #1), there is no better solution today than flash based storage whether it be DRAM, PCIe, or Solid State Drives (SSDs). No doubt 15,000 RPM and 10,000 RPM server hard drives will have their place for years to come, but we cannot argue against the growth of flash in the IO intensive applications where data is the hottest. Plus RPMs aren’t the reason IT buyers choose to deploy 15K or 10K drives. It’s more about meeting a certain level of IOPS with needed capacity at an attractive cost. This brings rise to our third reason.

3. Hybrid is the best of both words. Whether we are talking hybrid systems or solid state hybrid drives (SSHDs), hybrid storage doesn’t rely on RPMs to market it’s benefits to IT.  It’s all about delivering the right level of performance and capacity, and the ability to move data from flash to disk and back up to flash based entirely on demand for said data. Who really cares if a hybrid system uses 10,000 RPM, 7,200 RPM, or even 5,400 RPM drives?  As long as it delivers on capacity and performance requirements, the RPM spec is irrelevant. You can read more about this in the latest edition of FAST Magazine: Choosing High-Performance Storage is not About RPM Anymore.

4. The Power of power. How many times a day are we bombarded with news on how much data is growing? We get it, it’s huge, and it’s putting more and more pressure on one particular resource that we all know is not infinite –  energy. With fast data growth comes the need to store it somewhere.  Given that most of this unstructured data is cold (accessed infrequently) it does not need to be stored high performance storage.  It belongs on low cost, high capacity storage that consumes less power. Less is more and that’s the power of the power spec.

 5. It’s just plain old. The last time a new hard drive spin speed was introduced was over a decade ago (15,000 RPM), and since then we have seen advancements in areal density which delivers higher capacity and performance, security in the form of self-encrypting drive technology, energy efficiency features like Seagate’s PowerChoice, and let’s not forget interface improvements like 6Gb/s SAS, and now 12Gb/s SAS. In fact, one could argue, spin speed or RPM has not changed at all.  In the fast moving world that is information technology, innovation is critical, and when it comes to how fast we can spin some platters, it just isn’t there.

Long live touting innovations that actually deliver greater capacity, higher IOPS, lower power, and relevant features that IT Pros are willing to pay for, because RPM just ain’t cutting it anymore.


Related Posts:

The TCO of Hard Drives vs Flash Storage…not so fast

Seagate puts Big Data in action – a case study

Over-paying for over-performance?


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