TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is the big story here. Price has always been one of the major inhibitors for companies looking to upgrade to enterprise-class flash products and Intel is helping to break down those boundaries. One of the great benefits of more value-centric solutions such as the 910 is the ability to use them in applications where many users are not commonly accustomed to seeing flash devices employed.
OLTP, VMware, Cloud Computing and other high impact I/O applications are the most common implementations for PCIe SSDs and rightly so. The latency and tremendous random access speeds that solid state storage can deliver fit right into the needs of these I/O intensive applications. In many of these applications, particularly the financial sector, cost is no object and performance trumps all other considerations.
As solid-state storage becomes more affordable, there will be greater penetration into servers that were previously not considered for this type of high performance flash device. Caching and Tiering models in particular can easily accelerate existing infrastructure. Using the Intel 910 as a front end for a large array of HDDs can provide instant results. Through a variety of software caching programs, some of which we will be testing with the 910 in the coming weeks, hot files can be placed onto the SSD from the HDDs providing massive improvements in existing servers. This in turn keeps the CPU utilization in the host server high, maximizing the performance of the entire system.
A growing concern is also the increasing network traffic and infrastructure required in the datacenter. As many more robust caching software programs make their way into the datacenter look for this traffic to be cached and accelerated using flash storage as well.
With so many uses for flash in the server space, we look to see devices such as the Intel 910 deployed en masse in the very near future and the testing today gives us a taste of the performance that can be expected from multiple PCIe SSDs. The small form factor, ease of use and lower price points will surely make applications such as this much more commonplace in the future.
With the marriage of Intel's own flash and controllers to the LSISAS2008 PCIe Bridge and drivers, Intel has definitely delivered in the performance aspect, beating all of their own marketed specifications easily. We easily attained 457,146 4K Random read IOPS. The 4k Random write IOPS reached an impressive 178,482 in Steady state. The capability of 191,102 4K random write IOPS in Steady state with 20% over-provisioning at QD128 tells the story for the possibility of configuring the device for high random workloads as well.
The Intel 920 is truly a well-rounded performer, in both single and multiple applications.