Fusion-io lays minefield with a billion IOPS

Fusion-io lays minefield with a billion IOPS

Summary: Fusion-io has demonstrated a billion input/output operations a second via eight HP servers, 64 ioDrive2 Duo cards and a new piece of software that dramatically boosts the performance of its non-volatile storage technology.The company achieved the data transfer rate at the Demo:Enterprise event in San Francisco on Thursday.

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TOPICS: Storage
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Fusion-io has demonstrated a billion input/output operations a second via eight HP servers, 64 ioDrive2 Duo cards and a new piece of software that dramatically boosts the performance of its non-volatile storage technology.

The company achieved the data transfer rate at the Demo:Enterprise event in San Francisco on Thursday. The demonstration was emblematic of the company's strategy of combining software and hardware to protect it from other, larger technology companies replicating its PCIe-linked NAND flash technology.

ioDrive2 Fusion-io used 64 2.4TB flash ioDrive2 cards in the demonstration Photo credit: Fusion-io.

Fusion-io was able to give a 16-fold increase on the base performance of its ioDrive2 cards by using Auto Commit Memory, a new piece of software within the company's ioMemory VSL suite that makes it possible to bypass the host operating system and form a direct link between the flash cards and the servers' processors. The demonstration used 64 byte data packets.

"You're mapping [the storage] like a memory device," David Flynn, the company's co-founder and chief executive, told ZDNet UK. "What it really boils down to is getting the data to the application as quickly as possible. What this is demonstrating is the final step which is removing the thick layers of software."

By bypassing the host operating system, which in the demonstration was Linux, Fusion-io can up the rate at which data can be passed to the processors and back to the ioDrive2 cards.

"What's the point of a billion IOPS if the operating system is only capable of a million?" Flynn said. Auto Commit Memory does away with the data transfer limits of operating systems, though applications will need to be tweaked and rewritten to make use of the technology, he admitted.

Auto Commit Memory is the initial shell in a barrage of software updates that the company plans to bring out in 2012, ZDNet UK understands. It represents the company's major defence against competition from larger companies, such as EMC via its Project Lightning card and HP — which resells Fusion-io but is rumoured to be working on its own technology as well.

Fusion-io's gamble is it can make software that increases the performance of Fusion-io hardware to such an extent that companies happily tweak their applications to fit it. If this happens, it creates a difficult environment for companies like EMC when they target Fusion-io customers, Flynn said.

"We take the fertile ground, and leave a minefield behind," he said.

Ultimately, Fusion-io's cards should be viewed as a beachhead for the VSL software suite, Flynn conceded.

Some of Fusion-io's customers are Apple, Facebook and major companies in the financial, transportation and e-transaction industries. HP and IBM resell its technology. The demonstration came two years after Fusion-io broke the one million IOPS barrier.

"Instead of treating flash like storage, where data passes through all of the OS kernel subsystems that were built and optimised for traditional storage, our core ioMemory technology offers a platform with new programming primitives that can provide system and application developers direct access to non-volatile memory," said Steve Wozniak, Apple's co-founder and Fusion-io's chief scientist.

Topic: Storage

Jack Clark

About Jack Clark

Currently a reporter for ZDNet UK, I previously worked as a technology researcher and reporter for a London-based news agency.

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3 comments
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  • There's absolutely nothing new under the sun; only people who are not old enough to know.

    1. Ever heard of DMA? Stands for Direct Memory Access: data are transferred directly from memory to other agents--and vice-versa--without any CPU(s) intervention. Been around since the 1950's.

    2. Ever heard of the basic philosophical difference between Motorola and Intel CPUs?:
    I/O ports in Motorola processors were memory-mapped, meaning that every memory location was an I/O port, and every I/O port was a memory location. This also means that EVERY memory-reference instruction could be used on an I/O device.

    Tell your friends at Fusion-io that they're in deep trouble if they're relying on "no prior art" for patent protection.

    Warmest regards...
    bakerdriver
  • Oh, and not to put too fine a point on matters, Steve Wozniak was the person at Apple who was directly involved with the choice and use of MOS Technology's 6502 processor, a clone of Motorola's 6800 8-bit processor. And then again in the use of sho'-nuff Motorola processors at Apple (68000, 68010, 68020...).

    I'm sure this is pure coincidence.

    Warmest regards...
    bakerdriver
  • ...... and PDP11s too
    Horace Ontalhold