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Data Storage Technology

640gb PCIe Solid-State Drive Demonstrated 324

Posted by Zonk
from the super-fast-super-small dept.
Lisandro writes "TG Daily reports that the company Fusion io has presented a massively fast, massively large solid-state flash hard drive on a PCIe card at the Demofall 07 conference in San Diego. Fusion is promising sustained data rates of 800Mb/sec for reading and 600Mb/sec for writing. The company plans to start releasing the cards at 80 GB and will scale to 320 and 640 GB. '[Fusion io's CTO David Flynn] set the benchmark for the worst case scenario by using small 4K blocks and then streaming eight simultaneous 1 GB reads and writes. In that test, the ioDrive clocked in at 100,000 operations per second. "That would have just thrashed a regular hard drive," said Flynn. The company plans on releasing the first cards in December 2007 and will follow up with higher capacity versions later.'"
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640gb PCIe Solid-State Drive Demonstrated

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  • Oblig. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:07PM (#20785353)
    640gb ought to be enough for anybody.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Maybe for your pr0n collection ;)
    • Re:Oblig. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ady1 (873490) on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:11PM (#20785421)
      Its not the size of the harddrive which is amazing. Its the read/write speed.
      Even if you get a 32GB model, you can install windows on it and use the regular SATA2 HDD for movies/music storage. Think of the booting time.
  • Uhh, Price? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:08PM (#20785379)

    Who, what, when, where, why?

    Price would seem to be a pretty important detail...

    • by thegnu (557446) <thegnu.gmail@com> on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:11PM (#20785427) Journal
      I think it's safe to assume you won't be buying one soon.
    • Re:Uhh, Price? (Score:5, Informative)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:14PM (#20785489) Homepage Journal
      FTFA:

      So how much will these cards cost? Flynn told us that the company is aiming to beat $30 dollars a GB, something that should seem very cheap to large corporations, adding "You can drop ship or Fedex this card and be up and running in a few minutes... you can't do that with a storage area network."
      So, let's say they get to $29 a GB, a reasonable price for NAND flash-based memory devices. 640*30==$19,200. Sorry, but that doesn't seem to beat an inexpensive SAN in price. I recently priced out a 12TB iSCSI SAN for a little bit more than that, and even 1-2 TB fibre SAN from IBM should be around the same price.

      • by BlueBlade (123303)
        Not to nitpick, but you're not even close to the price of flash memory with your estimate there. $29 per GB? Newegg lists several 16GB USB key drives [newegg.com] for about $130, or $8.12 per GB. And that's retail. It's safe to assume that the actual price per GB for a mass-produced drive would be much lower than that. Even at $8, that hypothetical drive would be about $5120.

        Right now, flash RAM prices drop in half every 6 months or so, meaning it won't be that long until this drive isn't outrageously expensive anymor

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by walt-sjc (145127)
          Um dude? He is quoting the FA. It's pretty clear that this drive will release at prices closer to $30/G. Maybe next year they can get down to $8...
          • by BlueBlade (123303)
            Hum yeah sorry, classic case of didn't RTFA. It's just that anyone claiming that flash costs $30 per GB is smoking some seriously good stuff (or is a govt employee paying $50k for a few hundred rolls of toilet paper or some such).
      • Sorry, but that doesn't seem to beat an inexpensive SAN in price.
        You're forgetting maintenance costs. Solid-state devices have a lot longer MTBF than mechanical devices, and I assume they need less power too. Both of those get rather costly.
      • This device is all about the IO/second.. a 12 TB SAN cant come close..

        If your looking to run a blast/darwin query on 50k files to find the closest match to an unknown dna sequence Either you need to recode a bunch of software to use sql, or you snag a piece of hardware that gives database level performance. 80gigs at $2400.00 is a bloody bargain.

        The device is also 10x faster in bandwidth than a normal drive which is comparable to a san, but not such a power hog.

        So really the tradeoff rocks for small

    • by PineHall (206441)
      From the article they are "aiming to beat $30 a GB". Not cheap! Figuring $30/GB, a 640GB drive would cost $19,200. So it is way out of my price range.
    • So how much will these cards cost? Flynn told us that the company is aiming to beat $30 dollars a GB

      At $30/GB, that would make an 80GB drive around $2,400. Hopefully the price will eventually come down, as "He even hinted that the company is looking into some gaming applications, but didn't want to give any further details."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        I could buy a 10 GB drive for most of my OS and software, and just keep my media on a traditional hard drive. You don't need a super fast drive for your MP3s and Videos, but it would be nice to increase boot times as well as application start up times.
        • by hackstraw (262471)
          I could buy a 10 GB drive for most of my OS and software, and just keep my media on a traditional hard drive. You don't need a super fast drive for your MP3s and Videos, but it would be nice to increase boot times as well as application start up times.

          As an cluster guy, I would like to have these things as cheap, reliable, and removable. Size does not matter too much here.

          As a server guy, I would like to have the same, but also with larger capacities.

          Imagine a life w/o ever having a RAID array throw a disk
    • by ArcherB (796902) *
      Who, what, when, where, why?

      Price would seem to be a pretty important detail...


      $30 a GB.
    • If price is an important detail, then you should wait 5 years for this to hit the mass market.

      Speaking as someone who remembers paying $2500 for a 1GB drive (and that was with a 30% educational discount...
      If that kind of I/O speed is important enough for a business, I can see them not only paying the $2400 for an 80GB drive, but buying 5 of them to put in a 4 disk raid-5 configuration with hot-swap spare. (because FLASH drives have a nasty history of dying after too many writes when used in place of an

    • by harryk (17509)
      I'm guessing you didn't read the article. Fusion IO hopes to beat $30/GB. True, it did not give a specific price, but the reference is available.

      What I'm more interested in is which PCIe bus it plans to use? Is this 1x, 8x, 16x ??

  • With small but fast flash drives appearing on the market, it would be nice to have storage systems that can automatically migrate data between disk and flash to maximize performance.
  • by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot@exitUMLAUT0.us minus punct> on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:10PM (#20785413) Homepage
    What's the MTBF? [wikipedia.org]
    • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:15PM (#20785523) Homepage Journal
      Hitachi are saying that they have solved the overwrite problem (at least mitigated it by a factor of 100)

      They appear to want to use normal DRAM memory for the running of the drive but then write it permanently to the NAND flash at shutdown/memory full time.
      I would assume this involves charging of a small battery and dumping the data later on.

      http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2007/09/26/hitachi-reckons-solid-state [theinquirer.net]
      • by drxenos (573895)
        More likely it uses hold-up capacitors. We use NVSRAM that does this. It will permanently store the memory when it detects a power lose.
    • The only MTBF I've found is based solely on stress testing. Estimates vary wildly from 500,000 hours, up to 1 million hours.

      I think that getting this to market will improve MTBF (and, of course, give us REAL numbers). It will also spur competition in two areas. First, other companies that provide storage solutions will take it seriously, which may drive prices way down. Second, the NAND flash drive companies will try to improve MTBF to be able to sell more flash. Of course, their prices may drop as

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        500,000 hours is a long time. That's 57 years. I've had many traditional drives die. And none of them had anywhere close to 57 years. The oldest operational drive I have is 10 years old, but it probably only has 4-5 years maximum of time that it's been on. Are you really going to care about your hard drive 57 years after you buy it? And those are old smaller capacity drives. The newer higher capacity drives tend not to last as long. Most drives I wouldn't trust past 5 years of usage.
        • by norton_I (64015)
          MTBF is usually misunderstood. This is largely because it does not measure the mean time until your drive fails, despite the name. MTBF is usually quoted for a 5 year drive life. So, if the MTBF is 50 years, and you have 100 drives, you expect 2 failures/year, as long as you replace all the drives when their 5-year life is up, failed or not.

          Hence, it is a metric only of direct importance to people estimating failure rates for RAID arrays and the like.
    • We'd have said something like, "What's the Mean Time Between Failures?"

      WTF?
  • Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:12PM (#20785435)
    I could imagine using this as an OS drive. No sooner do you let your finger off the power button than the login screen appears.
    • What's the big deal about that? My Commodore 64 can do the same thing.
      • Yeah? How does WoW play on your C64?
        • Re:Wow (Score:4, Funny)

          by FiveLights (1012605) on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:39PM (#20785899)
          You are standing in a field, facing East. A river runs East and West to the North of you and a path runs to the South and East.
          • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

            by HarvardAce (771954) on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:47PM (#20786017) Homepage
            You are likely to be eaten by a gnome.
          • You are standing in a field, facing East. A river runs East and West to the North of you and a path runs to the South and East.

            Come on now, this is MMO! It should read:

            You are standing in a field, facing East. A river runs East and West to the North of you and a path runs to the South and East.
            Also here: John lvl 12 Cleric
            • Come on now, this is WoW! It should read:

              You are standing in IronForge, facing East. A chasm runs East and West to the North of you and a path runs to the South and East.
              Also here: John lvl 12 Cleric
              John1 lvl 13 Cleric
              FarmerJohn00 lvl 70 Farmer
              FarmerJohn01 lvl 70 Farmer
              FarmerJohn02 lvl 70 Farmer
              FarmerJohn03 lvl 70 Farmer
              FarmerJohn04 lvl 70 Farmer
              FarmerJohn05 lvl 70 Farmer
              FarmerJohn06 lvl 70 Farmer
              FarmerJohn07 lvl 70 Farmer
              FarmerJohn08 lvl 70 Farmer
              FarmerJohn09 lvl 70 Farmer
              FarmerJohn10 lvl 70 Farmer
              FarmerJo
        • Re:Wow (Score:5, Funny)

          by east coast (590680) on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:50PM (#20786053)
          Yeah? How does WoW play on your C64?

          It plays very nice.

          [turns to the other Commodore users] I told him it plays very nice [chuckling from users]

          Now! Go away or I shall taunt you a second time.
    • Don't worry. I'm sure they'll find a way to bloat the startup to make it slow again.

      As soon as resources are available, developers find a way to use them to just within the patience threshhold of the user.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zlogic (892404) on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:05PM (#20786273)
      My PDA boots in about 30 seconds, and it doesn't have a harddrive. Booting isn't just loading stuff from a drive, it's hundreds of tests like
      - hardware changes
      - hardware initialization (e.g. loading firmware)
      - searching for drivers
      - applications acquiring and releasing resources and checking for stuff like library versions, user names etc.
      That's why BIOS initialization often takes time, and yet it works even if the system has no drives.

      The only way this would work is hibernating, but hardware would still need to be initialized.
    • by langelgjm (860756)
      [joke]Sadly, it only scores a 4.1 on the Windows Experience Index.[/joke]
  • I can't find any mention in the article of whether you'll be able to boot from them with current BIOSs. Surely any system they'll be in will have a decent amount of RAM for the OS, but it would be pretty cool solely for the fast boot times.
    • I can't find any mention in the article of whether you'll be able to boot from them with current BIOSs. Surely any system they'll be in will have a decent amount of RAM for the OS, but it would be pretty cool solely for the fast boot times.

      Hey,
      We all use Linux right.. we never have to reboot /sarcasm.
  • Will it last as long as a standard hard drive?
  • So how much will these cards cost? Flynn told us that the company is aiming to beat $30 dollars a GB
    So the initial 80GB model will hopefully cost less than $2400. I suspect these will be limited to servers demanding immense I/O with a large amount of data.
    • by Ant P. (974313)
      Sounds like it'd be more cost effective to just have a ton of RAM and a good UPS.
      • ram, especailly server ram is more that $30/gigabyte.

        also even ignoring the issue of power using system ram for long term storage is a bad idea because it is so vulnerable to crashes and you can't have very much of it (32 gigabytes is the limit of most server boards you see and that is only achievable by using very expensive 4 gigabyte sticks). Ramdrive cards with built in battery backup do exist but that drives up the price even more as you have to buy the adaptor card as well as the sticks of ram.
    • by Teun (17872)
      It sounds like a gamers dream, they are the driving force behind a lot of speed improvements and will pay about anything to have the latest HW.
      On the other hand, do (present) games really benefit from this massive speed bump?
    • I suspect these will be limited to servers demanding immense I/O with a large amount of data.

      I could see some uses for them, especially in environments where things will get bounced around quite a bit. For example, airplanes, military vehicles, off-road vehicles, etc. could all benefit.

      Hmmm....I wonder how good it would be for submersibles, perhaps they could push new depths since they wouldn't have worry about the air pressure within the hard drive enclosures.

  • $30 per gb, ouch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dnamaners (770001) on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:14PM (#20785495) Journal
    Its fast, but not as fast as I would have hopped with parallel access. They better get the speed up or the cost down to hit it big. Right now I'd take either direction, as they both have decent applications. Good progress though, time will tell.
  • Seems like finally a newer reason to upgrade my hardware. I've never bothered with Vista, and I'm not big into gaming, so my P4/2.2GHz rig has been more than adequate for (surprisingly) over 5 years. Haven't needed a high end graphics card for a while, and only upgraded that for DVI output 3 yrs ago. When I built the thing in '02, I figured I'd get 3 yrs tops before it became a file server.

    But it doesn't have a PCIe slot. Something like this would finally give me a reason to build an all new PC. Anyone e
  • Imagine a RAID6 of these. With a parallel interface between then for parity calculations..
  • This could be a revolutionary product - or something that dies a quick death. The difference is "how much does it cost?"

    Even a guess would be helpful. As a "proof of concept" it's pretty well useless - putting memory on a interface card isn't something that was invented recently. Heck, Microsoft was selling memory boards for the PC-XT way back when.

    It was a good idea back then and it's still a good idea now - but what's kept it from becoming a widespread technology has always been the price. If they haven

    • $30 bucks a gig (Score:3, Informative)

      by niola (74324)
      According to the article, they are looking at pricing to be 30 dollars a gig. That is pretty pricey.

      That means their low-end 80GB drive will be around $2400+ or so US dollars depending on tax, shipping, retail prices etc.
      • Mod me down for sour grapes - I am fairly certain my story, which is still listed as "pending" will be rejected!

        007-09-28 15:05:44 Would you buy a $2,400.00 80 gig Flash Hard Drive? (Hardware,Data Storage) (pending)

        Oh the pain of rejection!

        B-)

        At least I got to shake the hand of the next POTUS! [eburgobama08.org]

        Peace out!
    • by LingNoi (1066278)
      They priced it at $30 per gig but said the price may change.
  • Wow... adding 800gb/s to the workload of a southbridge would be quite a jump in required power, no? If they want such a possibility, would we have to accept another mboard form factor? Make room for yet another heatsink. O.o
  • Misleading benchmark (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chris_Jefferson (581445) on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:29PM (#20785739) Homepage
    "'[Fusion io's CTO David Flynn] set the benchmark for the worst case scenario.."

    By which he means, set up a completely unrealistic benchmark which shows his flash drive in the best possible light, and a traditional drive in the worst possible light.

    I still want one of these, but that benchmark is nothing to be proud of.

    • by Joce640k (829181)
      400Mb/sec transfer rate with instant seek is "nothing to be proud of"?

      I know people who would commit felonies to have one of those for their page file.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stonecypher (118140)

      "[Fusion io's CTO David Flynn] set the benchmark for the worst case scenario.."

      By which he means, set up a completely unrealistic benchmark which shows his flash drive in the best possible light, and a traditional drive in the worst possible light.

      No, the scenario he set up is a classic worst case scenario for drives, one which is well known to large disk usage corporations: near-random access by hundreds-or-thousands of concurrent users. This is what SANs are built to address, this is what parallel RAID

  • These things sound great--I'm just afraid of Dell and other computer companies deciding that consumers don't want flash hard drives because we aren't buying the ones they offer. Then they attempt no development in this regard. The thing is, though, people are just not willing (for the most part) to pay extra to get a small capacity hard drive. They need to offer these things with similar capacies to their conventional hard drives--64GB just isn't that unreasonable for these things.

    Then again, perhaps the
  • Damn expensive, $19,200 for 640GB......... I want it but cant afford it.. Josh
    • by glop (181086)
      There is quite are premium to pay here. Flash is at 8$/GB right now (16-17$ for 2GB etc.).
      So the Flash for a 640GB SSD could be obtained for about 5 thousand dollars.
      But integrating all that Flash is not that easy.

      You could buy a bunch of USB flash drives and use software RAID to make a big drive. If you have plenty of USB ports on your PC, you might connect 6 flash drives of 8GB which would offer 48GB at 400$ or so.

      Another idea I had was to buy CF flash and CF-IDE adapters and connect them to an Areca RAID
  • by mathx (988938)
    considering that large quad-socket boards have space for 8 Dimms per CPU we're looking at 128GB+ per machine and soon to increase. 640Gb isnt that much bigger. Since it's on the memory bus and not a PCI-* bus, its going to be faster than these drives, and it's more expensive right now. By the time they're at $30/GB ram will be alot less than that. The automatic persistence (without scheduling to back the memory to disk, like RAM would need) is the only advantage, so you're putting a high price on that abili
  • HardCard! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jeffy210 (214759) on Friday September 28, 2007 @01:56PM (#20786155)
    It's the return of the HardCard!!!! I remember having one of these with my old PC/XT. It was a 20 MB HardCard that fit into an ISA slot. The first ever hard drive i had running Windows 3.0 with DOS 3.3 on it.
  • 640GB? Why don't they translate that into something more usable, like Porn/Sec.
  • by shdowhawk (940841) on Friday September 28, 2007 @02:30PM (#20786633)
    Having talked to people at demo, what it pretty much came down to is this... is this a product we should be excited about? Definitely ... is it something that will do well right away? Not at all. The price has to drop before this becomes a really valid and useful tool for the GENERAL PUBLIC / Company. But there are a lot of companies out there willing to pay too much money to get these. Hopefully these big companies buy these up and fund this project as QUICKLY as possible. 7 of these side by side at 320/640 gigs a piece is a SCARY/powerful server.

    That being said, a few of the guys there said that they pretty much expect these (at the beginning) to do the best sales for companies that are looking to get really really fast database servers going. NOT for scsi san replacements (it's silly to spend $100,000 for something you could get for 10,000 hard drive space wise). Eventually as the price drops... i know of a handful of people who would EASILY pay 1000$ to get one of these on a gaming rig even if it was only 100 gigs. But that right there is already 1/3rd of the price of what it currently is. (assuming it's around 30$ a gig).

    Another thing to keep in mind that came up in the conversations... since these are tiny, think about the cost per server rack... and think of the cost per electricity to run. If you take those into consideration, these are actually less expensive that most people would think! A massive rack of hard drives could cost a lot of money in a co-location ... and a lot of electricity to run it all... But then again, we're talking about savings on servers, not general in home use.

    When this gets to about 1/3rd of it's current price, that's when you will see these things become TRUELY mainstream both to the average company and home users (be it rich ones who need the latest and greatest).

    Fusioni-io [fusionio.com] -- Link to their site.

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