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Adaptec Launches Hybrid Flash/Disk Storage

An SSD cache upgrades a whole RAID array to solid-state performance, says I/O controller maker

On by Peter Judge 0

I/O controller maker Adapter has produced a hybrid array storage system which brings together solid-state storage and hard disks to reduce the I/O performance gap between servers and their storage – without a massive price hike.

“The compute power of servers has improved tremendously over the last ten
or fifteen years, but the I/O performance has only improved slightly,” said Jurgen Frick, product marketing manager EMEA for Adaptec. The new MaxIQ product uses a solid state disk (SSD) as a cache to bridge this “I/O gap”, he said.

“SSDs are disruptive,” said Frick. “They can be up to 100 times faster than a hard disk drive – but on the other hand they are still very expensive per Gbyte.” Other sources reckon that SSDs could also be a useful way to reduce the carbon footprint of data centres.

The MaxIQ software lets an Adaptec RAID controller use an SSD as a cache for many hard disks. Supporting twelve hard disks, Adaptec gets an overall 20,000 I/O operations per second, and a throughput of 1.2GB/s – performance which would otherwise require either one hundred thinly populated hard disks, or else a very expensive system made entirely with SSDs, said Frick.

SSDs [provide high performance, while hard disks give high capacity, leaving users with a trade-off, said Adaptec’s CEO Sundi Sundaresh: “We saw the opportunity to break that trade-off.” Sundaresh spoke to eWEEK at some length about the role of SSDs and I/O controllers in boosting data centre efficiency.

The system uses a 32Gbyte Intel X25-E SLC SSD, and runs on existing Adaptec Series 2 or Series 5 I/O cards. Each controller can have up to four of these SSDs, creating a pool of up to 128Gbyte, which can be used to support multiple RAIDs, said Frick: “but in most cases only one SSD is needed.”

Combining SSDs and hard disks is already available with some servers(for instance from IBM, and also from Sun), but combining them on the RAID controller is more sensible, said Frick, because the SSD performance is available without any changes to existing operating systems and applications.

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The user company does not need to change its data protection strategy, because data in the cache is never at risk, as the Flash-based SSD is not volatile, said Frick.

The “hot” data that needs to be in the cache is computed entirely within the Adaptec system, which analyses requests in real time, and places often-used data on the SSDs.

The product costs $1295 (£785) for an SSD and the software to run on the I/O card

Peter Judge

Author: Peter Judge

Editor, TechWeekEurope
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