2010 Gift Guide for Storage Geeks

If that someone special in your life has storage on their mind come the holidays, we may be able to help with gift ideas. With ideas ranging from the very affordable (free) to very expensive (skipping a few mortgage payments), we've combed the world of storage procurement so you don't have to.

Up to $300

This next price level can be a bit more difficult for people to reach (me included) but when you ask yourself, “has my Linux storage geek been naughty or nice?”, the answer is that we’re always nice. So we are definitely worth it (at least I think so).

In this price range we start to see lots of variation in hard drives with some that have really huge capacities and some that have really fantastic performance. Table 3 below lists some of extreme hard drives that all good Linux storage people deserve.

Table 3 – Hard Drives in the $300 and under Category

Name Form Factor Capacity Speed Cache Interface Price
Western Digital Caviar Green WD30EZRSDTL 3.5″ 3TB 5,400 RPM (presumably) 64MB SATA 3.0 Gbps $249.99
Seagate Barracuda XT ST32000641AS 3.5″ 2TB 7,200 64MB SATA 6.0 Gbps $169.99
Western Digital VelociRaptor WD6000HLHX 3.5″ 600GB 10,000 32MB SATA 6.0 Gbps $279.99
Western Digital VelociRaptor WD1500BLFS 3.5″ 150GB 10,000 16MB SATA 3.0 Gbps $149.99
Seagate Savvio 15K.2 ST973452SS 2.5″ 73GB 15,000 16MB SAS 6.0Gbps $149.99
Fujitsu MBA3073RC 3.5″ 73.5GB 15,000 16MB SAS $139.99

The first drive is the only 3TB drive that is out right now. Plus it has a monster 64MB cache. Not had for $250.00. The second drive is one of the fastest 2TB SATA drives and it has a 6.0 Gbps interface (three cheers for performance!).

The next two drives are both 10,000 rpm drives giving your Linux storage professional even more performance (and in the end that’s what all of us want). The first drive is a 600GB drive at 10,000 rpm, a 32MB cache, and a SATA 6.0 Gbps interface. Get this one if you can afford the price since it’s one fast drive with a pretty large capacity.

The last two drives are 15,000 rpm drives (the fastest consumer oriented drive). Both have small capacities (about 73GB), small cache (16MB), and SAS interfaces (presumably 6.0 Gbps). But the first drive is a 2.5″ drive! I’m not sure it would work in your laptop but it’s fun to contemplate (nothing duct tape couldn’t fix).

In addition to hard drives this category also has a huge number of SSD options. Table 4 lists some of the SSD’s that I like.

Table 4 – SSD’s in the $300 and under Category

Name Form Factor Capacity SLC or MLC Interface Sequential Read Access Sequential Write Access Price
Patriot Inferno PI120GS25SSDR 2.5″ 120GB MLC SATA 3.0 Gbps Up to 285MB/s Up to 275MB/s $249.99
Crucial RealSSD C300 CTFDDAC128MAG-1G1CCA 2.5″ 128GB MLC SATA 6.0 Gbps Up to 355MB/s Up to 150MB/s $284.99
Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G2K5 2.5″ 80GB MLC SATA 3.0 Gbps Up to 255MB/s Up to 70MB/s $199.99
OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD3-2VTX180G 3.5″ 180GB MLC SATA 3.0 Gbps Up to 285MB/s Up to 275MB/s $299.99
OCZ RevoDrive OCZSSDPX-1RVD0120 PCIe 120GB MLC PCIe x4 Up to 540MB/s Up to 490MB/s $299.99

I have chose some insanely fast SSD’s that fall into the sub-$300 category. Just remember that all, and I mean all, Linux storage professionals love speed, so any of the drives are great holiday gifts (or even stocking stuffers).

The first drive, the Patriot Inferno, uses a SandForce controller (SF-1222) that has great performance. One of the keys to this amazing SSD controller is that it does real-time data compression and decompression, improving performance.

The second dive is one of the few, if not the only SATA 6.0 Gbps interface SSD’s available. Some people have felt that SSD’s need a correspondingly fast interface so that the drive isn’t bottlenecked by the interface. The Crucial RealSSD C300 turns in some great performance consistently ranking near the top in performance in many reviews.

The third drive is the Intel X25-M with 80G of capacity. Intel has done some truly beautiful things with SSD controller technology and logic in their SSD controller chip and this SSD is about the largest Intel drive you can get and still stay under $300.

The fourth drive, the OCZ Vertex 2, is one of the few 3.5″ SSD drives that I know of. The Vertex 2 series has very good performance and this particular model has the largest capacity to still stay under $300.

The last drive is something unique and amazing. Fusion-IO started developing SSD’s that actually plugged into the PCIExpress bus. They have achieved performance that is breathtaking but comes at a very high price (see the next section). But they have blazed the trail for the industry and now we are seeing consumer PCIe based SSD’s. The RevoDrive from OCZ as shown in Figure 15 is fairly new but you get performance that is about twice what you see from SATA interfaces.

Figure 15: OCZ Revodrive, SSD drive in PCIe x4 slot

With this SSD drive you get the same capacity as the other drives, 120GB, but you get much greater speeds from the drive. If you truly appreciate your Linux storage loved one and you know they have a free PCIe x4 slot (just ask them – they will be impressed), then you must get them this holiday gift.

Up to $1,000

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