Storage Unpacked 256 – Hyper-scalers and SAS with Rick Kutcipal

Chris EvansAll-Flash, Cloud, Guest Speakers, Storage, Storage Unpacked Podcast

In this episode, Chris chats to Rick Kutcipal, “At-Large Director” with the SCSI Trade Association. The topic of conversation is the adoption of SAS media (both HDDs and SSDs) by hyper-scale customers that include public cloud vendors and companies such as Meta. Market perception implies that NVMe-based drives are taking over the world, but that’s far from the truth. As Rick explains, some 90% of exabytes shipped on SSDs and HDDs are still using the SAS interface. SAS scales much better (in terms of drives in systems) than NVMe, while offering a competitive price point when looking at “slot cost”.

There’s a lot of detail to digest in this discussion. It touches on some novel features of HDDs, for example, including Depop and Command Duration Limits. What is clear from the conversation is the longevity of SAS into the future, even as the transition to flash-based media continues.

To learn more about the SCSI Trade Association, check out their website at You can also find them on Linkedin – here.

Elapsed Time: 00:33:09


  • 00:00:00 – Intros
  • 00:01:30 – Hyper-scalers are big users of SAS devices
  • 00:02:55 – Refresher – What are SAS and SATA?
  • 00:04:55 – What are storage requirements for Hyper-scalers?
  • 00:05:40 – Requirements differ by area (engineers, operations and architects)
  • 00:07:15 – Small percentage savings make a big difference to Hyper-scalers
  • 00:08:45 – SAS scales to thousands of drives, with built-in management
  • 00:10:00 – Certain features have been added specifically for Hyper-scalers
  • 00:12:10 – I/O density continues to decline with HDD capacity increases
  • 00:13:55 – Drive systems can be a mix of NVMe and SAS/SATA drives
  • 00:15:30 – Reliability is critical, to avoid data centre interventions
  • 00:18:15 – Scale is only achievable with SAS
  • 00:19:35 – The supplanting of HDDs by SSDs is debatable
  • 00:21:30 – Large-scale SSDs are seeing the same issue as large HDDs
  • 00:23:30 – Tiering will continue to be important within the storage industry
  • 00:25:00 – Exabytes shipped still shows 90% remains behind SAS infrastructure
  • 00:27:50 – Power comparisons between SSD and HDD are not clear cut
  • 00:29:35 – Hyper-scalers focus on “slot cost”
  • 00:30:30 – What businesses are using SAS solutions – Meta
  • 00:31:55 – Wrap Up

Related Podcasts & Blogs

  • #238 – SAS 24GB+ Updates with Rick Kutcipal
  • #74 – All About Serial Attached SCSI with Rick Kutcipal

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