This is for those of you who crave the data…although in this case the data come from the vendor, so the high won’t last long. One of the Sun blogs posts performance results of the Sun Fire X2270 (with quad core Xeon 5570s) running the MSC NASTRAN Vendor_2008 benchmark. You may find the comparisons of HDD versus SSD performance interesting.
From the summary of results (although the post does have a rather extensive table with actual numbers)
The effect on performance from increasing memory to augment I/O caching was also examined. The Sun Fire X2270 server was equipped with Intel QC Xeon X5570 processors (Nehalem). The positive effect of adding memory to increase I/O caching is offset to some degree by the reduction in memory frequency with additional DIMMs in the bays of each memory channel on each cpu socket for these Nehalem processors.
SSDs can significantly improve NASTRAN performance especially on runs with larger core counts.
Additional memory in the server can also increase performance, however in some systems additional memory can decrease memory GHz so this may offset the benefits of increased capacity.
If SSDs are not used striped disks will often improve performance of IO-bound MCAE applications.
To obtain the highest performance it is recommended that SSDs be used and servers be configured with the largest memory possible without decreasing memory GHz. One should always look at the workload characteristics and compare against this benchmark to correctly set expectations.