Flash cards promise to save time, cost on network storage

Fusion-io storage solutions launched onto UK market

A solid state drive device that promises to embed SAN performance on a single PCIe card, bringing faster data access times, lower power consumption and operating costs, and a considerably smaller physical footprint to network storage solutions, has been launched in the UK.

Salt Lake City-based Fusion-io has launched two NAND flash memory-based products into the UK market. The ioDrive comes in capacities of 80, 160 and 320GB and promises a top read bandwidth of 750MB/sec and 119,790 IOPS (input/output operations per second) in the 80GB version. By comparison, typical hard disk drives are capable of roughly 100 IOPS.

The new ioDrive Duo doubles the slot capacity of the original and raises the read bandwidth to 1.5GB/sec while promising a maximum 200,832 IOPS. The performance of multiple devices scales linearly, so that by using four Duos, an enterprise can scale performance to 6GB/sec and more than half-a-million read IOPS. The Duo is currently available in 160, 320 and 640GB capacities, with a 1.28TB unit promised before the end of 2009.

Both devices, available in the UK through its distributor, Diamond Point, boast a latency of less than 50 microseconds, against a typical latency of 50ms in disk-based storage solutions. The drop in latency, said Fusion-io international sales director Mathew Fleming, is down to the reduction in the number of data copies gained by having all components on a single device, and by replacing the disk controller - "the Achilles' heel of the disk drive" - with a proprietary controller.

As well as the speed boost, Fusion-io claims that the power output of the ioDrives equates to 1/2000th of that of the equivalent disk array, and the company claims that these operational savings alone suggest that the units could pay for themselves within a few months. The cards start at $4000 for the 80GB ioDrive.

The ioDrive and ioDrive Duo are compatible with all 64-bit Windows and Linux systems, and are the only NAND devices approved by IBM and Microsoft.

Fusion-io, which counts Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak as its chief scientist, have already sold the ioDrives to 500 of Forbes' Global 2000 companies, and sees the devices as ideal solutions for firms where network bandwidth is compromising productivity or network storage space is running low. Fleming also suggested that the devices could reverse the current trend towards datacentre storage, as organisations opt to bring data storage - particularly of frequently accessed, business-critical information - back in house. He added that ioDrive and Duo devices could sit on top of conventional disk-based storage systems and act as a cache for such frequently accessed data.

"Saving money in IT is a challenge," said Fleming. "We're providing a high value-add product at a fraction of the cost.

"With ioDrive, you can take racks and racks and consolidate it into a single device, and one company in particular is replacing thousands of servers with hundreds of ioDrives.

"The use of PCIe bus also makes the drives available to both legacy and future systems."

The company is also planning to release an edition for single workstations called ioExtreme suited to intensive media applications and gaming, as well as an Ethernet-enabled version called ioSan.

For the latest on storage, visit the CIO UK storage Tech Toolkit

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Rhys Lewis

CIO (UK)
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