Fusion-IO: a little bit of Woz and a lot of silicon

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CNet News ran a feature yesterday about Fusion-IO, about whom we have previously written. Steve Wozniak joined Fusion-IO as its chief scientist recently, at least partly to create the kind of buzz that generates articles at CNet (Woz is a tech hero and a smart guy, and I’m not slighting him in the least). Fusion-IO builds flash-based devices that replace the spinning disks in enterprise (and possibly HPC) servers.

The article offers a quick introduction to Fusion-IO’s value proposition (albeit one sided) and how they expect to grow their market. It’s a useful read if you are trying to map out technologies that may affect us in the future.

Enterprise solid-state drives typically offer much better performance than even the fastest hard-disk drives. Fusion-io claims that its IoDrive improves storage performance by as much as 1,000 times over traditional disk arrays while operating at a fraction of the power and at a tenth of the total cost of ownership.
…”We are not replacing a 15K-rpm disk drive,” Flynn said. (Hard-disk drives spinning at 15,000 revolutions per minute are the highest-performance disk drives used in enterprise servers.) “We are miniaturizing an entire (storage area network) of multiple drives by making it out of silicon. While a 15K-rpm drive may cost $2 to $3 per gigabyte, a high-performance SAN costs $50 per gigabyte and up–built from those same HDDs, mind you,” he said. “Our ioDrives are made up of chips that cost only $2 to $4 per gigabyte, but when we integrate them into a miniaturized silicon SAN, we charge $30 per gigabyte.”

Of course, some of the vendors have offered SSDs on their gear in the past (Cray did, and maybe others), but what’s different now is the potential of a commodity price point, and a heightened sensitivity to power consumption (whether you are an accountant or a tree hugger, it matters now if you are building a large installation).

Do you have experience with any of the current crop of solid-state drives? Leave a comment and let us know about it — or better yet, email me 300 words and I’ll post it on insideHPC. john at insidehpc dot com.


  1. EVE Online is a multiplayer online role playing game, with a single game universe that currently supports over 50k simultaneous online users. They have some fairly extreme I/O and performance issues, and have been using solid state RamSANs for a while now. They recently got some more and upgraded their blade systems – have a look at http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=632

    Their decision to go down the RamSAN route a few years ago was pretty daring at the time, especially as they’re a company based around one game – but it proved pretty visionary. I suspect we’ll see large, successful online games leading the use of HPC in the business world over the coming years.


  2. Tom’s Hardware just published some interesting performance benchmarks on the ioDrive…


  3. John_j_Rambo says

    The Woz is just a figurehead. He hasn’t actively done anything groundbreaking with hardware since the early 80’s. he’s just there to promote a bad product. I mean come on. Chief Scientist? What does a Chief Scientist who dances on network television do?

    I’m not just trying to besmirch the Woz. Quite the opposite. I like the Woz. I just don’t like Fusion Io. I have had 4 of their drives and all 4 have failed. I’m on my fifth and it doesn’t operate as fast as they claim. Personally I wouldn’t get one, but I have to evaluate the dumb thing for work.

  4. We hope we’ll see large, successful online games leading the use of HPC in the business world over the coming years.