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Fusion-io shoves OS aside, lets apps drill straight into flash

There's a party in the PCIe cache and your kernel isn't invited

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Fusion-io is wooing programmers with a software development kit loaded with interfaces so apps can directly access a flash cache as a memory tier.

Fusion-io ioMemory OS subsystem technologies like Auto Commit Memory and Atomic Writes, which were used in the billion IOPS demo, are available through the SDK. Developers can use the APIs to read from and write data to Fusion's ioMemory (PCIe flash storage cards) without going through the host operating system's IO subsystem, saving potentially millions of CPU cycles and much latency during the run time of an app.

Fusion's chairman and CEO, David Flynn, said; "When you get rid of that complexity, the resulting application is much more reliable and can leverage the full potential of ioMemory to run much faster.”

The Fusion-io SDK includes APIs within user-space libraries, as well as reference application examples made available as open source. The applications run, as it were, native on flash, and should run more quickly the more IO-bound they are.

Fusion's release says:

The Fusion-io SDK will feature APIs including the Key-Value Store, which will feature interfaces to reduce latency, improve memory efficiency, and reduce code complexity. The directFS API provides native file-access semantics to flash through a POSIX-compliant file system.

Like the native API libraries, directFS is implemented directly on ioMemory, significantly reducing latency by entirely bypassing operating system buffer caches, file system and kernel block I/O layers. Fusion-io directFS will be released as a practical working example of an application running natively on flash to help developers explore the use of Fusion-io APIs.

This is a canny move, and should encourage developers of IO-bound apps that could use a speed boost, with working set data stored in flash, to look favourably on Fusion's PCIe card products.

Commercial app suppliers could also develop and release ioMemory versions of their apps, which run many times faster than the standard builds, and, as importantly, many times faster than competing products, sparking the competing suppliers to do the same thing. This should increase demand for Fusion-io's products.

Other PCIe flash product hardware suppliers are now at a disadvantage, and will be looking to clever software people to develop their own app speed-up SW, with everyone dancing to Fusion-io's tune. Canny stuff indeed.

Select Fusion-io libraries and APIs are now available to early access partners through the Fusion-io Developer Program. The Developer Program portal will feature white papers, blogs, FAQs, and other resources. To apply for early access to the Fusion-io Developer Program, go to this website. ®

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