1 Million IOPS and Counting


Speed is truly taking precedence over capacity as data storage architectures head into the future with performance hitting 1 million IOPS and more.

And while Flash technology has always had the edge over hard disk drives when it came to throughput, some of the latest HDD configurations are starting to put that claim to the test.

HP gained some serious speed this week, showing off a ProLiant server tied to new technology from Fusion-io said to top 1 million IOPS. The two companies matched a DL785 G5 server run on four Opteron quads with five 320 Gb ioDrive Duos and six 160 GB ioDrive singles to deliver 8 GBps of sustained throughput under the fio benchmark. The ioDrive is a NAND flash device built on a PCI-Express form factor, which makes it ideal for near-line storage applications. It probably won't be long before we see a similar setup with HP's BladeSystem platform, considering it already uses the StorageWorks IO Accelerator system based on Fusion-io's ioMemory system.

LSI Corp., meanwhile, is bringing that kind of performance to hard disk technology with its new 6 Gbps SAS Raid-on-Chip (RoC) platform. The company is also claiming 1 million IOPS with a direct-attached storage (DAS) appliance containing three LSISAS2108 ICs tied to 12 2.5-inch hard drives. The company is sampling its 6 Gbps SAS MegaRAID adapters and RoC and expander ICs to OEMs, with general availability expected by the end of the year.

Yet another player in the high-speed storage game is Isilon Systems, which claim 1 million IOPS mark on a single file system with its IQ 5400S storage platform. The feat is accomplished with a 15k SAS drive, Quad-Gigabit Ethernet front-end networking and an Infiniband back end, which together provide more than 30 GBps aggregate throughput. Capacities can be scaled up to more than 3 petabytes.

That 1 million IOPS mark might not be the cutting edge for long, however. Finisar Corp. is laying claim to 1.5 million IOPS in its new performance test suite, which should give researchers the environment they need to kick their systems up a notch before too long. The company said its new Medusa Labs Test Tool Suite 3.0, supported by technology from Emulex and Third I/O, hit the 1.5 million mark last November at Supercomputing 2008, providing for full write/read/compare data-integrity testing.

With cloud storage set to become a common facet of the enterprise architecture, finding enough capacity won't be the challenge it once was. But if time really is money, faster storage could become a key weapon as organizations across the economic spectrum seek to streamline their operations going forward.