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Start-up Fusion-io has snagged Dell as an OEM for its ioDrive PCIe flash card accelerators.

Dell, via Michael Dell, is an investor in Fusion-io, a Salt Lake City-based startup, and now joins HP and IBM as an OEM for its products. The ioDrive technology provides a slug of flash memory for use by servers which accelerates application performance by acting as a high-speed memory resource, slower than DRAM but much faster than hard drives.

The ioDrive is available currently as a160GB single-level cell (SLC) product and in 320GB and 620GB multi-level cell (MLC) variants utilising 2-bit MLC technology. MLC flash is generally regarded as too slow, too unreliable and too limited in its write endurance for enterprise use, so Fusion-io has countered these problems.

Fusion's chief technology officer, Neil Carson, says the company is "the first vendor in the industry to deliver MLC-based solutions to the enterprise".

The ioDrive technology offers up to 285,000 sustained IOPS with a less than 25 microsecond commit latency.

The ioDrive Duo is conceptually a couple of ioDrives on a single card and goes up to 1.28TB of capacity. Both products use ioMemory flash modules whose capacity has recently doubled by use of sub-40nm flash process technology.

Samsung, the leading flash fabrication supplier, has a 34nm process technology and recently invested in Fusion-io.

Dell is producing an M610x blade server with two, full-size generation 2 PCI Express slots, which makes it possible for it to house two ioDrive Duos, meaning a maximum flash capacity of 2.56TB. Such a server, fully populated with DRAM and flash, would have an awesome ability to handle application I/Os without needing to go to disk.

The Fusion-io release mentions "scaling virtual machine deployments, driving faster financial transactions, serving up web content and accelerating database and data mining performance".

David Flynn, Fusion-io's CEO and co-founder, said: “We look forward to working with Dell to provide its customers with an ultra-high density memory that’s accessed like storage.”

Dell can ship ioDrives immediately; the ioDrive Duos will ship in a few weeks' time. ®

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