Fusion-io releases cheaper ioFX SSD for workstations

The new ioFX flash card is targeted at the video post-production industry

Solid-state storage maker Fusion-io today announced a PCIe-based flash card for workstations, the ioFX, that it said is a fraction of the cost of its higher-end server cards.

As the name suggests, Fusion-io is also heavily targeting the motion picture industry with the new ioFX flash card, saying its performance is well-suited for special effects post-production work with high-definition video.

The card uses a less expensive internal architecture that differs from past drives, using only four flash channels -- a quad-die package -- or half the write I/Os per second compared with Fusion-io's previous PCIe flash cards.

"We're not going to officially support HP-UX on this product because it's not going into servers. We're supporting Windows 7, along with some Windows Server because some artists need the horsepower," said Vincent Brisebois, performance computing industry manager for Fusion-io.

The new cards also support Linux and Mac OS X.

Brisebois said the reduced bandwidth of the card shouldn't affect the performance of the drives based on the types of applications that will be using them because they're more read- than write-intensive.

Fusion-io's ioFX PCIe flash card

"The IOPS on the entertainment side [video editing] are pretty much irrelevant. It's not about operations per second; ...it's mostly about bandwidth and access speed to the data," he said. "The real benefit is being able to bring it out at a fraction of the cost of our server product."

The ioFX SSD has a read rate of about 1.4GB/sec and a write rate of 700MB/sec, according to Brisebois. The card comes in only one size, 420GB.

By comparison, Fusion-io's ioDrive2, which is an in-server flash card, uses eight lanes to its MLC flash chips, offering greater throughput. The ioDrive2 also comes in 365GB and 785GB models.

However, the ioFX and ioDrive2 have the same latency times: .068ms for reads and 15ms for writes. One major difference from the ioDrive2 is a GPU-like cooling fan on the ioFX to help the card cope with warmer temperatures in workstation environments.

The ioDrive2 also costs more than twice as much as the new ioFX card, which retails for around $2,500. The ioDrive2 retails for $5,950.

The price includes one year of support.

"That's a very big step down from a server product in terms of pricing, and it brings it into the range of a high-end GPU, really," Brisebois said.

As with the ioDrive2 predecessor, the ioFX card comes with Fusion-io's ioSphere management software, which allows IT adminstrators to see how many cards have been installed, monitor their read-write performance and see how much data has been written to them.

The software also has an algorithm that predicts remaining life on any given card based on past use, Brisebois said.

Next week, Fusion-io plans to demonstrate the ioFX card at the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas.

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.

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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