SanDisk enters server acceleration market with PCIe card

The cards are also qualified for use with all major Microsoft Windows, Linux, and VMWare ESX server environments

SanDisk on Tuesday entered the growing marketplace for solid-state accelerator products with its own PCI Express (PCIe) card designed to boost the performance of workstations and servers used in data centers, server farms and cloud computing environments.

Like other products made by Fusion-io and Micron, SanDisk's Lightning PCIe SSA (Solid State Accelerator) cards can be added to workstations and servers to provide an I/O performance boost for frequently used data and applications.

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According to market research firm Forward Insights, the PCIe flash card market will top 1.2 billion in overall revenue this year. That compares with SAS SSDs (solid-state drives), which will hit $433 million this year and SATA SSDs, which will also garner $1.2 billion this year.

The new Lightening PCIe cards are based on technology SanDisk acquired with its buyout of Pliant Technology last year. The product is based on 24-nanometer SLC (single-level cell) flash memory.

The cards have a 2 million hour MTBF (mean time between failures) rating, which SanDisk said translates into 10 full drive writes per day for the life of the drive. The Lightening cards come with a five-year warranty.

SanDisk Lightning PCIe SSAs are available in 200GB and 400GB capacities. The cards fit into any standard PCIe slot with four or more lanes. Up to five cards can be installed into a single system to provide up to 2TB of total capacity.

By using the cards, performance in MySQL environments can be boosted by 300 percent over hard disk drives alone and performance with rendering graphical images can be increased more than 30 percent, SanDisk said.

SanDisk is also offering FlashSoft data caching software for the cards, which turns them into a flash cache for use with Windows systems. "Data centers can support large server workloads by combining the Lightning PCIe SSA as an additional storage tier in conjunction with SanDisk FlashSoft data caching software," SanDisk stated.

The cards can also be configured as a bootable OS drive that support multiple LUNs (logical unit numbers).

The Lightning PCIe cards can achieve up to a 410MBps sequential read rate, or 110,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) - 23,000 read/write IOPS using 4KB blocks and 17,000 read/write IOPS using 8KB blocks.

The cards offers a 245 microsecond average response time and sub-30 millisecond maximum response times. The cards deliver a sustained read and write latency as low as 50 microseconds.

The cards are are also qualified for use with all major Microsoft Windows, Linux, and VMWare ESX server environments. No additional system reconfiguration or software is needed.

The Lightening PCIe SSAs use 15 watts of power, which SanDisk said eliminates special cooling requirements.

"Enterprise businesses can now leverage a PCIe acceleration solution that combines SanDisk's leading NAND flash memory technology and its innovative controller design to offer the enterprise-grade reliability and scalability that our customers depend on," Greg Goelz, vice president and general manager of SanDisk's Enterprise Storage Solutions, stated in a news release.

The Lightning PCIe Enterprise SSAs will be available for purchase in 200GB (mode: LP206M) and 400GB (LP406M) capacities for $1,350 and $2,350 retail, respectively, at authorized retailers in North America, including Avnet, CDW, Newegg.com and TigerDirect.com.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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This story, "SanDisk enters server acceleration market with PCIe card" was originally published by Computerworld.

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