Power and PCI flash, the performance balancing act!

Woody Hutsell, http://www.appICU.com

Amidst a slew of other IBM announcements yesterday was IBM’s launch of the Flash Adapter 90 for AIX and Linux based Power Systems environments.  Flash Adapter 90 is a PCIe flash solution that accelerates performance and eliminates the bottleneck for latency sensitive, IO intensive applications.  Enterprise application environments such as transaction processing (OLTP) and analytics (OLAP) benefit by having high performance Power processors balanced against equally high performance PCIe flash.   This type of balance thereby, increases server productivity, application productivity, and user productivity to drive a more efficient business.

The Flash Adapter 90 is full-height and half-length PCI Gen 2 providing 900GB of usable eMLC flash capacity.  Flash Adapter 90 is a native flash solution without the bottlenecks common to other PCI flash solutions and uses on-adapter processing and metadata to lessen the impact on server RAM and processing.   Up to four of the adapters can be used inside supported Power servers.

In a recent article “Flash fettlers Fusion-io scoop IBM as reseller partner”, Chris Mellor observed that IBM’s recent decision to launch Fusion ioScale based IBM Flash Adapters Enterprise Value for System x® solutions was evidence that IBM had abandoned the PCI flash technology that IBM received when they acquired Texas Memory Systems.  The Flash Adapter 90 product launch demonstrates that IBM has not discarded this technology, merely waited for the perfect time and perfect platform to bring it to market.  IBM has consistently demonstrated a desire to meet client needs whether that involves engaging IBM R&D to develop solutions, such as the Flash Adapter 90, or bringing in industry standard components.

Flash Adapter 90 brings IBM patented Variable Stripe RAID technology and enterprise performance to the Power Systems client base who have anxiously awaited a solution with a driver tuned to take advantage of AIX and Linux operating systems.  Power Systems are acknowledged as the world’s fastest servers and now have a bit of world’s fastest storage to create an unbeatable combination of processor and storage for accelerating business critical  applications.  Along the way, IBM tested the combined solution with IBM’s Identity Insight for DB2, demonstrating IBM’s ability to combine multiple products from application to server to storage for a consistent predictable client experience.  This combination of products showed performance superior to other tested configurations yet at a much lower cost per solution.

With this announcement, IBM offers its Power Systems clients more choice in deciding what flash storage they will use to accelerate their application.  Power System clients can consume flash from IBM in any manner that best suits their data center or application environment structure.  Clients may choose from IBM FlashSystem, IBM Flash Adapter 90, EXP 30 Ultra SSD Drawers (a direct-attach storage solution) in addition to a host of other IBM System Storage products.  For applications or client architectures that are server-centric, i.e. use server scale-out/clustering for reliability, the Flash Adapter 90 is a low cost method for delivering outstanding application performance.  Applications based on DB2 and Oracle databases are excellent candidates for acceleration.

Long live the Flash Adapter 90.

More information on IBM Power Systems flash options can be found at:  http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/power/hardware/peripherals/ssd/index.html

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