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Fusion-io ioDrive Details

Can The Flash-Based ioDrive Redefine Storage Performance?
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The FusionIO drive consists of a x4 PCI Express board, a flash memory controller, and several banks of high-performance flash memory. The 80 GB and 160 GB capacity versions are based on single level cell (SLC) flash memory, while the 320 GB top model utilizes multi-level cell (MLC) flash. While the read and write performance are similar for all the models—700 MB/s reads and 500-600 MB/s writes—I/O performance varies a lot depending on the type of flash memory used. The 320 GB MLC flash version is limited to 60,000 to 79,000 random I/Os of 4 KB, while the others reach over 100,000 I/O operations per seconds. All of these numbers can be found on the data sheet.

Features And Limitations

Fusion-io’s wear leveling algorithm is based on a cycle of 5 TB write/erase volume per day, resulting in 24 years run time for the 80 GB model, 48 years for the 160 GB version and 16 years for the MLC-based 320 GB type. However, since 5 TB could be written or erased rather quickly given the performance level, we recommend not relying on these approximations too much.

As already mentioned, the card is a storage device, but it’s not a fully-featured drive and you cannot boot from it. The flash memory is mounted onto a low-profile PCIe board, which means that the card can also be deployed into many 2U servers or into 1U servers using riser cards. Once the drivers are installed, you can use it like any other storage drive within your system. It has to be partitioned and formatted, hence it is also possible to create software RAID arrays by utilizing your operating system’s RAID capabilities. In this manner, performance could be improved even more.

Management

Click to view screenshots of the IoManager tool

Fusion-io provides a small tool to manage and format the drive: the IoManager. It displays all status information, and allows you to attach or detach the ioDrive, low-level format it, and perform firmware updates. We had to update the firmware twice during our testing, ending with version 14071, which we used for all of our benchmarks. You only have to use the tool once, but it allows you to make important decisions, as it offers three modes that trade off performance against capacity, as shown here for the 80 GB model:

Maximum Capacity
80 GB
Improved Write Performance
40 GB
Maximum Write Performance
24 GB


Maximum capacity utilizes the full 80, 160, or 320 GB, while improved write performance will distribute write data to increase performance; if you choose this option, the total capacity will be 50% lower. The third option distributes writes to three sections, providing even better write performance.

Select your required performance option. You can choose to work with reduced capacity in favor of increased write performance.Select your required performance option. You can choose to work with reduced capacity in favor of increased write performance.

Once you have made your choice, IoManager will low-level format your FusionIO drive.Once you have made your choice, IoManager will low-level format your FusionIO drive.

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  • 3 Hide
    Tindytim , February 26, 2009 5:52 AM
    My question really has to be how this is going to effect the Future of SATA. Are we going to see a PCI-e based technology for the next generation of data storage technology? or are we just going to connect everything to a PCI-e slot?
  • 0 Hide
    danwat1234 , February 26, 2009 5:58 AM
    Seems that part of the logic would involve imitating a PCI-express IDE/SATA Controller so the BIOS can assign LBA stuff to it... But I don't know if that would confuse windows when it sees a 'Sata controller card' but it is actually this product... hmm.
  • 2 Hide
    danwat1234 , February 26, 2009 6:00 AM
    Above comment from me is referencing to how they would make the card bootable. Sigh. If only I could duck tape this to my new laptop. Well the Intel x25-m/e is good enough ;) 
  • 1 Hide
    cangelini , February 26, 2009 6:02 AM
    TindytimMy question really has to be how this is going to effect the Future of SATA. Are we going to see a PCI-e based technology for the next generation of data storage technology? or are we just going to connect everything to a PCI-e slot?


    Naturally, something like this is going to be very specialized. In mainstream applications, SATA is going to make the most sense. The PHY specification for SATA 6 Gb/s has already been ratified, so it's only a matter of time before the 3.0 standard starts making its way into controller cards and then chipsets. However, knowing what we know about magnetic storage and flash, you're really only going to see 6 Gb/s affect the throughput of SSDs moving forward.
  • 0 Hide
    ravenware , February 26, 2009 6:31 AM
    Wow, its even faster than the I-RAM drive.

    That's an expensive piece of hardware too, showing 3k for the 80GB version.

    Maybe they can take AMDs old slogan "Smash the hourglass".
  • 4 Hide
    erictaneda2 , February 26, 2009 6:41 AM
    Um... 5 TB per day = 5,000 GB per day = 5,000,000 MB per day. At 600MB per second write speed, this is 8,333 seconds, or over two hours of continuous writing at maximum speed.

    How does this mesh with "60 minute IOMeter benchmark run that focuses on write operations would result in wear equivalent to many weeks or months"?

    Either the author is misreading "5TB" as "5GB" or misquoting "5GB" saying "5TB" per day of writes.

    EricT
  • -5 Hide
    erictaneda2 , February 26, 2009 6:43 AM
    Um... 5 TB per day = 5,000 GB per day = 5,000,000 MB per day. At 600MB per second write speed, this is 8,333 seconds, or over two hours of continuous writing at maximum speed.

    How does this mesh with "60 minute IOMeter benchmark run that focuses on write operations would result in wear equivalent to many weeks or months"?

    Either the author is misreading "5TB" as "5GB" or misquoting "5GB" saying "5TB" per day of writes.

    EricT
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , February 26, 2009 7:36 AM
    cangeliniNaturally, something like this is going to be very specialized. In mainstream applications, SATA is going to make the most sense. The PHY specification for SATA 6 Gb/s has already been ratified, so it's only a matter of time before the 3.0 standard starts making its way into controller cards and then chipsets. However, knowing what we know about magnetic storage and flash, you're really only going to see 6 Gb/s affect the throughput of SSDs moving forward.


    The truth is that I don't think the interface matters as long as it has no latency issues and provides the bandwidth required. Who cares if it's SATA or PCI - as long as you can boot from it, it's fast, and it's not too expensive it's a viable solution for desktop drives.
  • 0 Hide
    addiktion , February 26, 2009 7:45 AM
    You see those IO graphs? This thing is screaming for data. I think they may have a great product on their hands if they can wedge up against SSD
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2009 9:13 AM
    Wonder if a fast RAID card with three 30GB SDDs, configured in RAID to about 80GB, would perform equally? Anyone?
  • 0 Hide
    Turas , February 26, 2009 9:34 AM
    AzUr111Wonder if a fast RAID card with three 30GB SDDs, configured in RAID to about 80GB, would perform equally? Anyone?



    It would take a lot of drives to get their IOPS but in pure MB/s you could get there with 3 Intel drives.

    The Intel X25-E should really of been included. I am getting 240MB write/220MD reads along with 4800 IOPS per drive. These things are monsters and although are expensive, they are much better then then IO-Drive in the price area.
  • 1 Hide
    LuxZg , February 26, 2009 9:48 AM
    Wow... 2400$ and more.. we won't be using that anytime soon :D 
    But production price can't be that high.. it's the pricing for performance they give. So hopefully, we can expect that in out computers oh well... for about 10 years, lOL! :D 

    And I don't see Intel X25 being that much better on price.. If you do RAID, you need what.. 8-9 drives to get that much IOps? 8x500=4000$ so that's more expensive than this thing, we won't even go into the size and power consumption of 8 drives vs one half-height PCIe card.

    This thing looks like a monster to me, even though I'm not professonaly into heavy server stuff.. And for the performance they are offering, it's not that terrible price either. Especialy if you work with relatively small amount of data which is accessed by a large number of clients. If you can fit any database or something similar in those ~20GB (and that's pretty large database for most uses) you'll have a screaming server with this thing..

    Anyway, just blabbering here, this is good thing. And can't wait for it to drop down some 25x in price :) 
  • -4 Hide
    LuxZg , February 26, 2009 9:49 AM
    Wow... 2400$ and more.. we won't be using that anytime soon :D 
    But production price can't be that high.. it's the pricing for performance they give. So hopefully, we can expect that in out computers oh well... for about 10 years, lOL! :D 

    And I don't see Intel X25 being that much better on price.. If you do RAID, you need what.. 8-9 drives to get that much IOps? 8x500=4000$ so that's more expensive than this thing, we won't even go into the size and power consumption of 8 drives vs one half-height PCIe card.

    This thing looks like a monster to me, even though I'm not professonaly into heavy server stuff.. And for the performance they are offering, it's not that terrible price either. Especialy if you work with relatively small amount of data which is accessed by a large number of clients. If you can fit any database or something similar in those ~20GB (and that's pretty large database for most uses) you'll have a screaming server with this thing..

    Anyway, just blabbering here, this is good thing. And can't wait for it to drop down some 25x in price :) 
  • 0 Hide
    LuxZg , February 26, 2009 9:50 AM
    sorry for double posting, system said it wasn't posted the first time :/ 
  • 0 Hide
    dangerous_23 , February 26, 2009 10:09 AM
    what about doing a benchmark using a software ramdrive such as the one from qsoft? i am getting around 500MB/s throughput in hdtach on a 2GB partition of ram - i'd be interested to see how it compares
  • 0 Hide
    Turas , February 26, 2009 10:49 AM
    I thought I had read somewhere that the price had gone up closer to 5K for the small one. THat is why I referenced the Intel SLC drives as another option. Sure it may still not give quote the same IOPS bt you would get more space. I guess it boils down to price/MB or price/IOPS depending on the use.
  • 0 Hide
    kschoche , February 26, 2009 10:59 AM
    I think the real market for something like this is not at all in desktops, but much more likely as an intermediary cache step in storage filers between memory and scsi disks. That is really the only place that can get away with costs of this magnitude in $/GB.
  • 0 Hide
    clownbaby , February 26, 2009 11:17 AM
    I'll bet this would make a sweet scratch disk for photoshop. Kind of pricey, but if you send me one I'll tell you how much I like it:) 
  • 0 Hide
    climber , February 26, 2009 11:36 AM
    This kind of performace is possible with a software cache approach from www.superspeed.com, their SuperCache 3 and RAMDISK 9 Plus products deliver 1GB+ to the allocated memory to caching the disk at a block level cache or using the RAMDISK to store data.
  • -4 Hide
    barrychuck , February 26, 2009 12:11 PM
    This is not some new idea! A far cheaper solution is to use a hardware raid controller such as a Highpoint 3510/20 or and Adaptec 5405/8505 and 4 or more smaller Samsung SLC drives in raid 0. The total cost is about $1300 dollars from the EGG. I am running such a setup with 4 drives and easily hit the numbers this Fusion-IO is hitting and can boot from it,in Windows, OS X, Linux, and a bunch of other OS's. The Samsung SLC SSD's are also rebranded and sold as AData, Gskill, and OCZ. The 32Gb version selling as low as $239 each. While MLC flash varies in performance, SLC is pretty much the same and the controller is what matters.
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