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performance of SAS vs SATA

Posted on 2007-11-26
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i'm need to determine what the performance characteritics are of SAS and SATA drives. SATA drives ar cheaper. Why buy SAS?
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Question by:JColburn
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SAS drives are available in much higher end performance than SATA.  So the difference will vary depending on the drive we are talking about.

For example you can get Seagate Barracuda drives is SATA and SAS.  Performance is similar with either interface as it is the same drive hardware - both drives are 7,200 RPM drives.

But if you look at the Cheeta line you now can choose SCSI, SAS or fibre channel and are talking about drives with spindle speeds up to 15,000 RPM.  These drives will give significantly better performance than SATA drives - or the 7,200 RPM SAS units for that matter.  The Cheeta drive does actually have throughput figures that are almost double that of most typical SATA drives.

To get an idea take a look at the performance charts over at Storage Review,  not all drives are listed with all interfaces but you can get an idea of how the trends go.

http://www.storagereview.com/php/benchmark/bench_sort.php

It is also worth noting that SAS drives, like SCSI are designed for 24/7 operation and sport longer MTBF periods than typical SATA drives.  Drives like the WD Raptor and a number of the 'enterprise' SATA drives are also designed for longer life than many consumer drives.

Of course the one 'weak' spot with these higher performance drives is price per GB,  which is much higher than SATA drives.

One nice thing about SAS controllers is they can support both SAS and SATA drives.  So you have the option to use both performance drives or cheaper SATA drives.

Why by SAS drives?  I think it really would depend on the needs.   A front line SQL server may simply need an array of 15,000 RPM drives to fill the bill.  At the same time a small company might need several TB of file space for online archives and SATA would make that very affordable.

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