Call it what you want; a unicorn, purple elephant or any number of cliches. This industry is full of them; the promise of photo realistic gaming, systems that boot in seconds and products like what we are talking about today, card based solid-state storage. All of these features are on the five year plan; in five years we will see how close we are to achieving them, all but one.
Fusion-io calls their card based solid-state storage technology ioMemory. It is a catchy name that goes along with the products name, ioDrive. The ioDrive uses NAND flash memory, just like the solid-state drives we have been reviewing for the last year. The difference is that everything we have looked at so far connects to a SATA port and the ioDrive rides the fast lane, 10GB/s to be exact from a 4-lane PCIe slot. If you think it sounds fast, just hang tight, there is a lot to cover before we get to the benchmarks.
Normally products like the Fusion-io ioDrive are not reviewed on general purpose computing review sites like TweakTown. In 2009 we will start to cover more products in the enterprise market and run them in parallel with our usual content. Behind the scenes the US office has been covering enterprise storage products for many years, but most of this testing has been for private reports and for our own twisted amusement.
DVNation, the webs leading Solid-State Storage e-tailer and one of TweakTown's suppliers offered me the opportunity to test the ioDrive under NDA. The whole thing started out like an unsolicited offer of contraband at a Grateful Dead show, "Fusion-io ioDrive, follow me." It is difficult to turn down such bliss; my only reply was "dose me please."
It wasn't until after testing that the review portion of the evaluation materialized. As stated previously, high-end server products generally do not make it to review sites and any product testing is performed by private laboratories. In this market even product pricing is kept close to the cuff. Sometimes even distributers are asked to refer inquiring minds to official company sales staff. Fusion-io and DVNation have really gone out on a limb to allow us an exclusive first look at their ioDrive. For that we are thankful, but as always, we only report our findings; the good, bad and ugly.