May 032013
 

Original article at Anandtech

The Fusion-io ioScale comes in capacities from 400GB to up to 3.2TB (single half length PCIe slot) making it one of the highest density, commercially available drives. Compared to traditional 2.5″ SSDs, the ioScale provides significant space savings as you would need several 2.5″ SSDs to build a 3.2TB array. The ioScale doesn’t need RAID for parity as there is built-in redundancy, which is similar to SandForce’s RAISE (some of the NAND die is reserved for parity data, so you can rebuild the data even if one or more NAND dies fail).

The ioScale is all MLC NAND based, although Fusion-io couldn’t specify the process node or manufacturer because they source their NAND from multiple manufacturers (makes sense given the volume required by Fusion-io). Different grades of MLC are also used but Fusion-io is promising that all their SSDs will match with the specifications regardless of the underlying components.

The same applies to the controller: Fusion-io uses multiple controller vendors, so they couldn’t specify the exact controller used in the ioScale. One of the reasons is extremely short design intervals because the market and technology is evolving very quickly. Most of Fusion-io’s drives are sold to huge data companies or governments, who are obviously very deeply involved in the design of the drives and also do their own validation/testing, so it makes sense to provide a variety of slightly different drives. In the past I’ve seen at least Xilinx’ FPGAs used in Fusion-io’s products, so it’s quite likely that the company stuck with something similar for the ioScale.

What’s rather surprising is the fact that ioScale is a single-controller design, even at up to 3.2TB. Usually such high capacity drives use a RAID approach, where multiple controllers are put behind a RAID controller to make the drive appear as a single volume. There are benefits with that approach too, but using a single controller often results in lower latencies (no added overhead by the RAID controller), prices (less components needed) and it takes less space.

The ioScale has previously been available to clients buying in big volumes (think tens of thousands of units) but starting today it will be available in minimum order quantities of 100 units.

Pricing starts at $3.89 per GB, which puts the 450GB model at $1556. For Open Compute Platforms, Fusion-io is offering a 30% immediate discount, which puts the ioScale at just $2.72/GB. For comparison, a 400GB Intel SSD 910 currently retails at $2134, so the ioScale is rather competitive in price, which is one of Fusion-io’s main goals.Volume discounts obviously play a major role, so the quoted prices are just a starting point.

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