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Fusion-io's flash memory OS plug-in

Operating system subsystem

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Fusion-io has created a flash-optimised operating system subsystem, the ioMemory Virtual Storage Layer.

VSL effectively pools or fuses traditional server DRAM and additional flash memory so that I/O operations requested by applications for files or blocks can use both DRAM, as before, and flash memory to speed up previously disk-bound I/O operations. Existing software such as file systems, volume managers, and applications will be able to access ioMemory without modification.

Fusion-io supplies PCIe-connected flash memory cards, ioDrives, that can be used as server cache or as a networked and shared flash memory resource. What it has now created is a way for server OEMs and others to use flash memory as an adjunct to DRAM without necessarily altering upper-level operating system, system software and application I/O operations to access a separate flash memory device.

The ioMemory VSL virtualizes Fusion’s ioMemory technology, presenting it not just as traditional block storage, but also as a virtualised storage/memory hybrid with a richer set of interfaces. With a set of programmatic interfaces, applications can be adapted to further exploit ioMemory to improve their I/O throughput, response times, and reliability features.

Fusion-io says VSL approaches flash as "an extension of the memory hierarchy and as a new building block for computer hardware and software architecture, rather than confining it only to traditional storage paradigms." It is "an elegant cut-through architecture that provides near-linear performance scaling with very little software/hardware overhead, unprecedented flash reliability and endurance, customer flexibility in formatting, software development opportunities, and future-proof field upgradeability."

VSL supports existing Fusion-io ioDrive products and, obviously, any forthcoming ones.

Separately we understand that Fusion-io's Global Channel and IEM sales director, Jon Murphy, has resigned from the company. It counts Dell as a reseller and HP and IBM as OEMs of its ioDrive-based products. We might assume that Murphy and his team have been alerting Fusion's OEM customers to the VSL technology and its possibilities.

There is no word on VSL's availability or pricing but this is not a product for end-users. Nor is there information on which operating systems are supported though we expect a Keyser Söze approach; the usual suspects in other words: Windows; Linux and the more popular Unix'. ®

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