Fusion-io exposes flash card innards to developers

The flash specialist's new SDK has features designed to increase the performance of applications used by social networks and the financial industry

Fusion-io has released a software development kit that lets developers speed up the performance of applications sitting on top of the company's PCIe-linked flash cards.

The SDK makes the cards' ioMemory operating system more accessible to applications, allowing them to bypass the host operating system to increase throughput and write data more efficiently. Its features are designed for applications used by social networks, online retailers and the financial industry.

"This SDK takes the next step in exploiting the architecture that's been in place from the beginning," Brent Compton, a senior director of product management at Fusion-io, told ZDNet UK. "For the SSD folks, they have always been a fast disk at the other end of an operating system stack, a SAS/SATA stack, a RAID controller [and] frequently a network that's all been created and tuned for rotational latencies on disk."

By using the free SDK, paired with Fusion-io's technology, developers can rewrite applications to pass through a lot of the software stack on the host server, helping them make better use of the high input/output rate of the company's flash memory cards, Compton said.

The SDK has five features in different stages of launch: Atomic Writes make the write process more efficient; Auto Commit Memory can boost the performance of high-throughput applications; Key-Value Store "makes the ioMemory look like a piece of hardware that is not disk but a native key-value store", which can increase the performance of NoSQL datastores; and DirectFS, which provides native file-access semantics via a POSIX-compliant file system. Fusion-io was not able to provide details on the fifth feature, Extended Memory, at the time of writing.

This SDK takes the next step in exploiting the architecture that's been in place from the beginning.

– Brent Compton, Fusion-io

Atomic Writes and Key-Value Store are currently with early-access partners, while Auto Commit Memory, DirectFS and Extended Memory should be released in the third quarter of 2012.

The company is trialling the features on a limited basis because it has "a fairly intimate interaction" with top customers such as Apple and Facebook, and wants to work with early adopters to spot bugs and improve performance, Compton said.

The SDK should let developers "focus more time on their functionality and less time on performance and scalability plumbing", Compton added.

Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviews delivered directly to your inbox with ZDNet UK's newsletters.