SanDisk: New Fusion-io PCIe Flash Cards Shrink Data Center Footprint
SanDisk’s Fusion-io Memory PCIe Flash card (Photo: SanDisk)

SanDisk: New Fusion-io PCIe Flash Cards Shrink Data Center Footprint

Vendor claims quadruple price-performance improvements with latest app accelerators

Looking to drive magnetic media further out of the realm of primary storage, SanDisk today unveiled a new set of Fusion-io PCIe Flash cards that it claims improve price-performance ratios by a factor of four over its previous generation of offerings.

Rob Callaghan, enterprise product marketing manager for SanDisk, says the Fusion ioMemory PCIe application accelerators make use of SanDisk NAND memory and Virtual Storage Layer (VSL) data access acceleration software to provide access to as much as 6.4 TB of data.

SanDisk claims that over 250,000 of its PCIe Flash cards have been deployed at more than 7,000 customer sites. In many cases, those PCIe cards have replaced high-performance magnetic disk drives.

Those cards not only result in applications that run orders of magnitude faster, Callaghan says, but they also reduce the size of physical footprint of the data center. That, in turn, winds up dramatically reducing the amount of energy consumed by those data centers.

The SX350 and SX300 series of PCIe cards can be configured in a server to provide anywhere from 1.25TB to 6.4TB of storage, while the PX600 Series provides anywhere from 1TB to 2.5TB of storage. In addition, SanDisk is making available a Mezzanine Series of offerings designed specifically for servers from HP and Cisco alongside of set of FlashSoft bundles that combine caching software and Flash memory hardware together in a single offering.

SanDisk says each of the new Fusion ioMemory PCIe Flash cards provides two times the random read performance over the ioDrive2 cards at a price point that is 61 percent less, while enhanced VSL software serves to both minimize I/O latency and maximize throughput.

In addition to shrinking the data center footprint required for primary storage, Callaghan says that faster PCIe cards are also needed these days to keep pace with faster processors from Intel.

“Traditional storage can’t keep up with faster processors,” he says. “Our PCIe cards make it possible to run applications as much as 700 times faster.”

Since SanDisk acquired Fusion-io, competition in the PCIe card space has become fiercer. Not only are there more options than ever, price points have fallen as Flash memory has become less expensive.

Because SanDisk is a manufacturer of Flash memory, Callaghan says, customers not only get to take advantage of those gains in price-performance, they are also ensured continued access to PCIe memory products even as demand for Flash memory technologies in consumer devices continues to explode.

Of course, the rise of Flash storage in the data center has also served to change the balance of power between server and storage administrators. As server administrators continue to load up servers with Flash memory, the number of expensive storage arrays an organization needs often decreases.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the end of storage arrays or even magnetic media inside the data center. But it does mean that the day when storage administrators were paid based on the expertise in driving maximum performance out of magnetic storage devices appears to be coming to a close.

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