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Kevin OBrien

Virident FlashMAX II MLC Application Accelerator Review (2.2TB) Discus

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The Virident FlashMAX II is a half-height, half-length PCIe application accelerator (AA) that's available with MLC flash media. The FlashMAX II is available in capacities up to 2.2TB, making it the largest available AA in this form factor. As with any product in this class however, density may be nice but ultimately performance is a substantial driver of adoption. The FlashMAX II offers mixed 4K IOPS (75% read, 25% write) of up to 200,000, along with 325,000 4K read IOPS.

Virident FlashMAX II MLC Application Accelerator Review (2.2TB)

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You've got "Random Read" twice in the specs for each capacity, the first one should surely be sequential read.

Apart from this.. an impressive piece of hardware and a nice review! And a few points come to mind:

1. You mention the added burden placed on the system by the FlashMAX II several times. Did you also quantify it? Does it really matter? Or: how slow would a CPU have to be for this to matter? Does performance of the drive depend on CPU speed and CPU load?

2. Using an FPGA and software provides a lot of flexibility. The drive's characteristics could easily be improved via updates, probably more so than with fixed hardware controllers. And it could be adapted to special requirements.. whatever these may be. This is surely a feature making this product stand out from the crowd.

3. You're classifying it as "application accelerator". I'm curious as to what exactly this means. What should I use such a drive for? The easy answer may be "if you have to ask, it's not for you" :D But what I'm actually asking is: is there any special scenario or software solution tied to this drive? Some HDD caching? Or is it "just" a very fast general purpose PCIe SSD you'd put your hot data, page files of VMs and what-ever on?

MrS

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MrSpadge' timestamp='1361395028' post='279322']

You've got "Random Read" twice in the specs for each capacity, the first one should surely be sequential read.

Apart from this.. an impressive piece of hardware and a nice review! And a few points come to mind:

1. You mention the added burden placed on the system by the FlashMAX II several times. Did you also quantify it? Does it really matter? Or: how slow would a CPU have to be for this to matter? Does performance of the drive depend on CPU speed and CPU load?

2. Using an FPGA and software provides a lot of flexibility. The drive's characteristics could easily be improved via updates, probably more so than with fixed hardware controllers. And it could be adapted to special requirements.. whatever these may be. This is surely a feature making this product stand out from the crowd.

3. You're classifying it as "application accelerator". I'm curious as to what exactly this means. What should I use such a drive for? The easy answer may be "if you have to ask, it's not for you" :D But what I'm actually asking is: is there any special scenario or software solution tied to this drive? Some HDD caching? Or is it "just" a very fast general purpose PCIe SSD you'd put your hot data, page files of VMs and what-ever on?

MrS

Fixed the spec sheet error, yes it was supposed to be sequential for one of those ;)

Good questions!

1. In terms of its affect on the system at large, its less CPU speed making the device slower and more of an argument around it using a certain amount of CPU % that could be used by another VM. In certain scenarios some models with this design could see improvement directly dependent on CPU clockspeed, although in this case it didn't matter. When we dive into more application-based tests in the coming months, the CPU utilization argument will be easier to both measure and describe.

2. FPGAs are great for all those items and definitely have a lot of advantages. Fusion-io is another one in the market that uses them and through software updates have been giving a lot of life to the first-generation products still... so you have more room to take advantage of newer host-system processors and resources and better code to make an old device quicker.

3. These devices are really sold into a market where they are designed to solve a certain amount of pain. While the price tag can make a lot of people choke on their morning coffee if they this might try comparing this to a SATA or SAS SSD for storage, its intended purpose is to really allow an application to live on it and operate better on all counts. In most cases you would still dump the OS on slow hard drives and your database for example on this card to speed it up. In VDI you'd dump all the VM images on it, and so on depending on the I/O pain your application has. So its end goal isn't making the "server" faster, but instead the application(s) that reside on it.

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Thanks for your answers, Kevin!

Something else I forgot to mention yesterday: when Intel introduced the S3700 they reorganized the.. ehm, stuff-table and traded required cache size for performance and IOps consistency. If they're not already doing this I suspect Virident could do something similar, or even offer different operation modes for the user to switch between (if this made any sense.. depends on what's possible). Certainly interesting possibilities!

BTW: did the review not make it to the front page? Or is still it due out soon and we're beta-testing here?

MrS

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