SAN JOSE – Fusion-io is shipping its Ion Data Accelerator, software to enable it flash memory cards on a server to act as a storage networking array or appliance. The code opens up a new front in competition between servers and appliance makers for storage networking jobs.
Fusion-io pioneered a route to boosting server performance by selling solid-state drives that ride the PCI Express interface to act as caches, expanding memory throughput. To date servers have been the biggest market for solid-state drives but flash-based appliances are seen as the next big target.
“We expect to be an increasingly large part of the flash appliance market” with the Ion software, said Woody Hutsell, senior director of product development at Fusion-io.
Storage giant EMC is also on the trial with plans for similar software code-named Thunder it may release before the end of the year, said David Floyer, CTO and co-founder of market watcher Wikibon (London).
“There will be some huge investments in software in this sector,” said Floyer. Fusion-io is in the lead, but it “lacks the financial muscle of an EMC, HP or IBM, so they have to keep running, and if they trip the bigger competitors could trample them,” he said.
Fusion-io claims Ion software on servers will outperform on most fronts competing appliances from Violin Memory and Texas Memory Systems. It plans to support up to 20 Terabytes of memory delivering 600,000 I/O operations/second with read and write latencies of 73 and 56 microseconds, respectively
Competitors beat Ion only in write latency due to their use of DRAM buffers which require power back up with batteries or supercapacitors.
The software sells for $3,900 and will be generally available in October from Fusion-io as well as partners Cisco Systems, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM. A division of distributor Synnex Corp. will sell the software integrated with servers from HP and Supermicro.
Separately, Fusion-io announced a design partnership with NetApp. The two will work to optimize Fusion-io’s server software for use with NetApp’s Virtual Storage Tier products including its Data Ontap operating system.
In addition, Fusion-io is working with unnamed partners on software accelerating atomic write operations for databases. It is also “in the early stages” of preparing a software developers kit that makes its PCIe flash disks look like main memory capable of handling load/store operations for Linux and Windows Server operating systems.
“There’s a range of applications there,” said Gary Orenstein, vice president of products for Fusion-io.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.