Fusion-io: Can you say Super Speedy Database?

speedy-gonzalesFusion-io is bringing a whole new meaning to SSD – Super Speedy Database.

Last week I had lunch with Sumeet Bansal, Fusion-io’s Principal Solutions Architect. Fusion-io is a producer of enterprise-class SSDs (Solid State Drives, as opposed to HDDs – Hard Disk Drives). Fusion-io applies flash memory to large-scale enterprise storage products like Storage Area Networks. I first met Sumeet when he was VP of IT at Wine.com.

Fusion-io has been in the news and caught me eye partly because of DesignMind’s interest in leveraging SSDs, and also because Steve Wozniak is their Chief Scientist.  If the Woz is on their team, you can bet they have some very exciting ideas.  As the Principal Solutions Architect, Sumeet advises Fusion-io clients on database acceleration, best practices, and proof-of-concept design and implementation.

Part of our discussion was about their products, and how they differ from the competition.  SSDs can be very fast.  They can also be pretty rugged, as they have no moving parts.  They are more expensive per GB than conventional hard drives at least for now.  SSDs eventually wear out – each spot on the NAND Flash Chip can be exercised a finite number of times before it stops working.

Key points regarding Fusion-io’s  ioDrive:

Performance of NAND Flash Chips is extremely fast. Read latency is an order of magnitude faster than conventional HDDs.  But the Fusion-io ioDrive removes the IO bottleneck and makes the cpu utilization more efficient. Fusion-io decided to adopt a PCIe architecture rather than dealing with the multiple layers of protocols necessary to implement a SATA interface.  I reviewed performance results at HotHardWare, and it’s clear that they are getting a big performance advantage.

They have the wear under control.  Their controller spreads the “wear” across the entire drive, giving them excellent life (1.2 million hours MTBF!)

The rest of our discussion was around how the ioDrive could be used most effectively on different platforms we work with a lot at DesignMind. There is work to be done regarding Best Practices for implementing SSD technology for SQL Server, SharePoint, Exchange, and other key Microsoft Server tools.  We look forward to working with Fusion-io to help them develop Best Practices, Performance Benchmarks, and Case Studies.