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Booting from PCIe SSD – Do We Need It?

Texas Memory Systems have just announced that their RamSan-70 PCIe SSD cards can now be used as bootable devices.  Currently support is restricted only to Linux operating systems with x86 64-bit hardware supporting the UEFI boot standard, but Windows support is expected later in the year.

I’m struggling to decide whether this is a feature we need within the server.  Ideally, I would see servers and blades moving to stateless boot from shared storage, but this is taking us the other way, pushing both the data and the boot device onto the same card.  What worries me about this are the issues around device failure.  If I have a PCIe SSD device installed and my server dies, I can quickly move it to another server.  If the SSD is also the boot device, I need to install it into a server that pretty much matches the dead one (if I want to boot from it again).

I suppose in instances where server hardware is running purely as a fast cache to a web application, then the ability to boot from a single device does have its benefits.  I’d be interested to hear what everyone out there thinks.  Comments welcome!

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