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Exclusive Look at Fusion-io ioDrive - PCIe Solid State - Final Thoughts

The muzzle is now off and Chris can show us the ultimate in server storage.

| PCIe SSDs in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Dec 10, 2008 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 94%Manufacturer: Fusion-io

Final Thoughts

 

There are a few things that we have not covered which should be addressed. The first is power consumption. Testing power consumption has never been high on my list of tests for consumer products, but now that TweakTown is moving into high performance computing products, I will need to add this test since in the data center power is just as important as performance. Many are now monitoring and charging an extra fee for additional power consumption over a set limit. Even without hard numbers, a single Fusion-io ioDrive is clearly going to draw less power than an Areca SAS RAID Controller and eight 15K.6, 15,000 RPM drives.

 

When the first press releases started coming out from Fusion-io, their big tag line was "The power of 1000 hard drives in the palm of your hand." I think 1000 may have been a bit of a stretch, even close to two years ago when the first release went out. Still, when it comes to the competition it may as well be 1000, because the important part of that is the size. When it comes to servers, size matters; 1.75 inches at a time. 1.75 inches is how tall a single Rack Unit (U) server is. I have seen 1U servers capable of holding four full size hard drives, but to hold eight you need to flip the drives around on end. In most cases, to fit eight drives you will need a 4U server. If a company rents rack space in a data center then going from 1U to 4U is a big deal since you are renting space by the unit. Moving down to the other end of the spectrum, you can easily fit two ioDrives in a single 1U enclosure.

 

Once you calculate the low power consumption with the small size, it is easy to see how advanced the Fusion-io really is. Even if the ioDrive performed at the same level as the traditional platter drives, it would still be a remarkable product. The thing is that the ioDrive does not perform at the same level of the fastest platter drives; it outperforms them by a very large margin. When it comes to actual server load performance the benchmark numbers are crystal clear. The ioDrive is the fastest drive we have tested, faster than the best solid state SATA II drive and faster than the best enterprise 15,000 RPM drive in an 8 drive RAID configuration.

 

There are still a few items that may worry admins. The first is that the overall technology is very new and in the enterprise world tried and true is the norm. This will undoubtedly hold a few prospective buyers back in the short term. Over time the technology and Fusion-io will be able to claim design wins and the market will warm up to the ioDrive.

 

Price verses performance is a no brainer at this point. DVNation now stocks the 80GB ioDrive that we looked at today for 2995.00 USD with discounts on volume sales. For the same amount you may be able to purchase a nice SAS RAID controller and three fast enterprise class drives, but since eight drives are no match for the ioDrive, imagine what a comparison of a three drive array would look like.

 

Since there are no moving parts or "sweet spots" like with the platter drives, you get a full 80GB of high speed capacity with the Fusion-io ioDrive. The Areca controller we use for testing SAS drives does a good job of leveling the sweet spot off, but a good enough job is far from the best in this case. If you need more space than 80GB, Fusion-io has a 160 and 320 drive available now and a massive 640 also on the way.

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