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Fusion-io announces fastest 640 GB server SSD, 1.3 TB version soon


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Chicago (IL) – The Fusion-io solid-state storage drive (SSD) manufacturer has unveiled a new product, the ioDrive Duo. Fusion-io has doubled the storage capacity of the ioDrive Duo by placing two modules on the same board. It now stores up to 640 GB of data, though 1.28 TB versions are coming later this year. TG Daily is as excited about this product as any that we’ve seen to date.

While Fusion-io claims ioDrive Duo is “the fastest server-based solid-state drive”, TG Daily is ready to take that claim a step further by saying “this technology is the storage product beginning a new chapter in permanent data storage.” While the underlying technology may change over time to include faster, different and better abilities, it is exactly this type of product (a direct, high-speed PCI-e based interface and massive flash storage) which marks it as the beginning. All average consumers need to wait for now is a little time for the technology to catch up, which historically is about two to five years.

Today’s ioDrive Duo is a PCI Express-based storage device capable of up to 640 GB of data storage at a 1.5 Gigabytes per second sustained throughput using 8 Kilobyte packets, and multiple devices have performance which scales linearly up to 6 Gigabytes per second using four drives. Each drive has the capacity for a sustained 1.5 Megabyte per second read bandwidth, and 1.4 Megabyte per second write bandwidth.

The ioDrive is rated at 186,000 read I/O operations per second (IOPS) using the same 512 byte packets as hard drives (93 Megabytes per second read) and 167,000 IOPS on writes (83.5 Megabytes per second write) simultaneously. This 512 byte packet size also makes writing updated storage drivers for the device an easy task, meaning wide OS support.

In summary:

• Sustained read bandwidth: 1500 MB/sec (32 kilobit, 4 kilobyte packet size)
• Sustained write bandwidth: 1400 MB/sec (32 kilobit, 4 kilobyte packet size)

• Read IOPS: 186,000 (4 kilobit, 512 byte packet size)
• Write IOPS: 167,000 (4 kilobit, 512 byte packet size)

The company claims the device has a latency of under 50 microseconds, which is a 100-fold to 200-fold increase over most high-end hard drive seek times today (which are around 10 ms).
[Note: Often times on modern hard drives it’s the seek time, and not the drive’s read/write speeds, which actually makes hard drive storage slow. Some OS drivers attempt to compensate for that, however most all of them do a woefully pitiful job of it. A simple re-ordering of reads and writes based on known or derived drive geometry can often provide a 2x to 5x speedup in performance on the same drive.]

The ioDrive Duo is equipped with optional RAID-1 mirroring between two ioMemory modules on the same ioDrive Duo for full redundancy in a single PCI-e card, though for the added mirrored security you’ll be sacrificing capacity.

The drive comes in two sizes: one which fits an PCI-e 1.0 x8 slot and one which plugs into a PCI-e 2.0 x4 slot.

The SSD is manufactured using Samsung flash memory and can be purchased in 160GB, 320GB, and 640GB capacities beginning in April. Within the second half of the year it will be available in a 1.28 TB capacity. At this point no information on price is available, but the company did mention that SSD prices are declining and that the ioDrive will sell for “well under $30 per usable gigabyte”, which would make the drives less than $4800, $9600, $19200 and $38400 (the price of $30 per Gigabyte). To compare, 1 TB hard drives today are selling at NewEgg for $88 to $160 for consumer drives, around $2000 for server drive. This puts their price per Gigabyte at $0.09, $0.16 and $2.00, respectively.

While these drives are extremely pricey by comparison (341x, 188x and 15x, respectively), they provide performance which could theoretically give a 100x speedup, though more likely between a 4x to 10x speedup in data read/writes during complex server workloads. Since the drives can be stored locally, they can also reduce network traffic resulting in a faster overall fabric. In large server farms, these savings could translate into several fewer pieces of equipment being needed to carry out the same workload, and in the same amount of time or faster. The money spent on buying fewer pieces of current equipment would be diverted to buying more of these types of storage systems.

This technology will literally change the face of computing. And it is products like this 640 GB PCI-e SSD that begin to write that chapter.

See Fusion-io’s ioDrive Duo PDF.