Violin releases multi-terabyte NAS acceleration device

New vCACHE array said to boost NAS system throughput up to 5GB/sec

Flash array vendor Violin Memory today released its first caching appliance for network-attached storage systems.

The new vCACHE device uses software Violin gained in June with its acquisition of Gear6, a maker of high-end network attached storage (NAS) systems.

Violin's vCACHE device combines the Violin 3200 Memory Array, which offers up to 7.2TB of usable capacity, with the Gear6 caching software. Combining the two adds support for network file systems (NFS), allowing customers to solve NAS performance issues.

The vCACHE systems include a centralized pool of memory that can increase data read operations on NAS systems by 10 to 50 times over the speed of hard disk drives, according to Violin Memory CEO Don Basile.

The vCACHE array uses a combination of DRAM and flash memory to boost throughput up to 5GB/sec or 300,000 I/Os per second on file systems.

"With NAS storage, you buy an amount of capacity in [a file server] that has limited I/O and a limited number of users it can support. As soon as you need more I/O, you pretty much have to upgrade the box," said Matt Barletta, Violin Memory's vice president of product management.

According to Basile, the vCACHE system can cache an entire active dataset, thus increasing NFS operations and bandwidth by five times while reducing latency by 80%. The device can sit in front of any NFS origin server or servers.

A single Violin 3200 Memory Array contains 10,000 single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash chips on cards, or what Violin calls modules, in a massively parallel configuration with a wear-leveling algorithm on top to control how data is distributed. The wear-leveling algorithm helps to ensure one module doesn't wear out before another. When a module does wear out, it can be replaced without disrupting operations because of a RAID configuration.

"One pleasant surprise we got from Gear6 is their web interface console. It's a GUI-based, so now we have a great web interface that can monitor multiple vCACHE modules and check on the health of [the memory boards]," Barletta said.

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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