Fusion io - the power of 1000 hard drives in the palm of your hand

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

San Diego (CA) – A new flash storage card from Fusion io could make huge storage area networks go the way of the dinosaur and DoDo bird.  The company’s upcoming ‘ioDrive’ combines hundreds of gigabytes of flash storage onto a small computer card and company officials claim that the tiny card could replace banks of hard drives.

Pictures of the ioDrive card ...

We caught up with Fusion io’s CTO David Flynn at the Demofall 07 conference in San Diego.  He explained that the ioDrive is a PCI Express card with a controller and NAND flash chips.  This isn’t a controller for other drives, but rather a self-contained storage device that can be easily popped into an empty motherboard slot.

Flynn told us that the cards will start at 80 GB and will scale to 320 and 640 GB next year.  By the end of 2008, Fusion io also hopes to roll out a 1.2 TB card.  You can even put multiple cards into a computer for extra performance and fault tolerance.

So how fast is the ioDrive?  Flynn said the card has 160 parallel pipelines that can read data at 800 megabytes per second and write at 600 MB/sec.  He even proved it by running a Linux drive I/O benchmark.  But for large corporations running busy databases, operations per second is a much more important number than bandwidth.

Flynn set the benchmark for the worst case scenario by using small 4K blocks and then streaming eight simultaneous 1 GB reads and writes.  In that test, the ioDrive clocked in at 100,000 operations per second.  “That would have just thrashed a regular hard drive,” said Flynn.

The company plans on releasing the first cards in December 2007 and will follow up with higher capacity versions later.  Linux drivers will be included and Flynn said Windows Server, XP and Vista drivers will be available three months after that.  He even hinted that the company is looking into some gaming applications, but didn’t want to give any further details.

“If you were crazy enough, you could use this in a high end game machine.”

So how much will these cards cost?  Flynn told us that the company is aiming to beat $30 dollars a GB, something that should seem very cheap to large corporations, adding “You can drop ship or Fedex this card and be up and running in a few minutes… you can’t do that with a storage area network.”