Specifications, Availability and PricingSpecifications, Availability and PricingLet's go ahead and knock a few limitations out before we get started with the specifications. The first thing is that the ioDrive is designed for server workloads where high IO's are required. Database and web servers are about as general as it gets, but any application where very fast read and write operations are required will see a significant speed increase. Don't get me wrong, everything on the ioDrive will load faster, with near nonexistent latency, but the card is designed and optimized for server applications. However, there is nothing keeping you from loading up a friendly game of Crysis and watching your load screen pass by like a fresh Ferrari in the hands of a new owner on an open desert highway in Nevada. At this time you can't boot to the ioDrive, but the feature is in development and showing promise in the labs. A version of the drive is also in development that is meant for general purpose computing, for those who can afford it. I won't speculate when we will see such a drive or at what cost, but I am sure DVNation will be one of the first places to carry the product and we will no doubt be one of the first to take a look. At this time the ioDrive is a 64-bit operating system-only product. I personally don't see this as a limitation and welcome the fact that a product is designed from the ground up to operate in a 64-bit environment as opposed to migrating from 32-bit to 64-bit. There are several 64-bit operating systems; these range from Linux to a half dozen or so from Microsoft. We have already moved our disk drive and enterprise product test bench over to Vista 64-bit, so the ioDrive was a true plug and play solution.
The PackagingThe Packaging
The Fusion-io ioDrive 80GBThe Fusion-io ioDrive 80GB
Test System SetupTest System Processors: AMD Opteron 2356 (2.3GHz Quad-Core) x2Motherboard: Tyan S2915-E (Supplied by Tyan)Memory: Kingston KVR667D2S4P5/2G x4 (Supplied by Kingston)Graphics Card: XFX 8800 GTX (Supplied by XFX USA)Enclosure: Lian Li V2000Cooling: Noctua NH-U12DO (Supplied by Noctua)SATA Controller: Areca ARC-1231ML (Supplied by Areca)SAS Controller: Areca ARC-1680i (Supplied by Areca)Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate X64The fastest SSD I reviewed to date is the Intel X25-M so it will be used to compare against the io-Drive. The fastest traditional, platter based drive available on the market is the Seagate 15K.6 (review coming shortly). The Intel X25-M is currently available for around 600 Dollars. At the time of testing I only had one available, so running RAID was not an option. For the platter side I have eight Seagate 15K.6 drives that have been ran through various RAID configurations. Each 15K.6 drive sells for around 800 USD and the Areca controller adds another 1000 USD, so the total cost of the 8 drive array is in the neighborhood of 7400. The Fusion-io ioDrive as tested today is 2995 USD.There is still the issue of capacity. The Intel and Fusion-io are both 80GB, but the Seagate array with 8 450GB drives is quite a bit larger. It might be a little hard to swallow, but in the server world it is not uncommon to find large arrays with only a few gigabytes of data on the platters. This is especially true when it comes to database servers where the data is kept on the fastest part of the drive to keep I/O high.It should also be mentioned that this test was performed several months ago and at the time the drivers were in beta form. A newer set was later submitted to Microsoft for WHQL Certification.
Benchmarks - HD Tune ProHD Tune ProVersion and / or Patch Used: 3.00Developer Homepage: http://www.efdsoftware.com/Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com/>HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:- Benchmark: measures the performance - Info: shows detailed information- Health: checks the health status by using SMART - Error Scan: scans the surface for errors - Temperature display HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.
Benchmarks - Everest Random Access TimeEverest Random Access TimeVersion and / or Patch Used: 4.60Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com/Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com/ >
Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk TestsPCMark Vantage - Hard Disk TestsVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark-vantage//Buy It Here
Benchmarks - PassmarkPassmark Advanced Multi-User TestsVersion and / or Patch Used: 6.1Developer Homepage: http://www.passmark.com/Test Homepage: http://www.passmark.com/ >
Final ThoughtsFinal ThoughtsThere 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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