Mount Rainier Project from Qlogic Scales SSD Storage

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As the I/O performance gap between processors on the server and storage systems continues to widen, providers of storage systems have been embracing cache memory as the efficient way to narrow the divide. The problem is that most of those offerings are not as tightly integrated with the overall storage environment as should be.

To address that issue, Qlogic today revealed the existence of a Mount Rainier technology project that embeds up to 2TB of cache memory using solid-state drives (SSDs) within a host adapter plugged into a PCIe slot on the server. According to Cameron Brett, director of solutions marketing for Qlogic, that approach provides a seamless way for boosting the I/O performance of storage-area networks (SANs) attached to Qlogic adapters because data that normally resides in the SAN can be cached on the server.

The single biggest benefit of this effort is the fact that it doesn’t require the deployment of separate drivers to manage SSDs. The Qlogic drivers traditionally used for SAN storage have been extended to support both SSDs and traditional hard drives.

In addition, this approach makes it possible for multiple SANs and servers to be clustered, which means they can share access to the same cached data. Customers will also have the option of supporting either write-back or write-through modes of operation, and all data on the adapters and on the SAN will automatically be synchronized.

Given the number of server and storage vendors that use host-based adapters developed by Qlogic, it shouldn’t be too long before SSDs attached to servers become a standard extension of many storage systems. Brett says Qlogic expects to begin shipping adapters based on Mount Rainier technology early in 2013, which means IT organizations should expect to see systems capable of supporting I/O throughputs that are orders of magnitude faster sometime next spring.