Fusion-io's Atomic flash cards can talk to applications for a bigger speed boost

The new parts, with as much as 6.4TB each, can accelerate databases, virtual desktops and other software

Fusion-io's new generation of ioMemory flash components can pack in twice as much capacity, and according to the company, they know how to use it.

Thanks to smaller die sizes in flash media, the so-called Atomic Series offers as much as 6.4TB of capacity on a single PCI Express card, versus 3.2TB on the previous generation. But Fusion-io has also worked with vendors of database, virtualization, big-data and virtual desktop software to make the new ioMemory products further accelerate those applications.

Fusion-io's ioMemory cards bring data directly into servers through high-speed PCIe connections to the motherboard. The company engineers those cards to act like memory, not storage, which sets it apart from the many other vendors of flash-based products on the market, said Gary Orenstein, executive vice president of marketing at Fusion-io. Its flash controller and software, developed in house, handle the solid-state media in ways that reduce latency and help accelerate applications, he said.

The company is focused on turning server-based flash into more than just another pool of storage, adding technologies to speed up access to the data and make more efficient use of it. The latest stage in that effort is coming to fruition with the Atomic Series, Orenstein said. Fusion-io is now working with software vendors so their applications be aware of the flash cards and exchange key information with them to make the software run faster.

One example of this type of effort was announced earlier this year through a partnership with the MySQL community, Orenstein said. Fusion-io cards and MySQL databases can now coordinate the way they clean up and maintain databases and compress the data in them, leading to as much as a two-times improvement in capacity utilization with no performance degradation, he said.

Fusion-io's broader effort with software partners extends to Oracle, VMware, Microsoft SQL Server, SAP Hana, Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, and other software. It will accelerate those applications out of the box, with no changes to software or hardware, but further gains could come from updating to the latest version of the vendor's software, Orenstein said.

The Atomic Series cards come in two models, the ioMemory SX300 and PX600, with capacities ranging from 1TB to 6.4TB. They are available now, with prices set by Fusion-io's resellers and server partners, including Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and SuperMicro.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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