Project Lightning (aka VFCache)

EMC today officially launched VFCache, the project previously known as Lightning

VFCache is a host side PCIe SSD product not totally dissimilar to products from Fusion-io in its mechanical operation, but possessing unification with the rest of the EMC suite of products, adding significant value to this version 1.0 offering, software is key here!

At its heart, VFCache allows IO to occur over the PCIe bus at lightning (no pun) speeds, approaching 4000x the IOps per GB than traditional magnetic media, and about 20x the IOps per GB compared to SSDs.  an amazing catch up step for technology that has remained rather stagnant for the last 20 years (drive IO per GB)

A few important facts about the release that I summarized from Chads blog (Virtual Geek)

  • Software is key, the hardware is inconsequential, but the initial partner vendor is Micron providing a 300GB unit
  • Support for a variety of Dell, Cisco, HP and IBM systems, but no Blades yet
  • Utilization in a VMware environment ties the VM to a local system, removing vMotion benefits
  • Primary use case for v1.0 is extremely high performance requirements, high read cache

Things to look out for, and that are already on the roadmap

  • De-Duped Cache (stealing tech from Avamar, Data Domain and Recoverpoint?)
  • Better integration with Arrays (VNX, VMAX)
  • Distributed Cache (read: VMware clusters operate properly with it?)
  • Bigger models
  • Mezzanine models for blades
  • MLC usage

and this leads ultimately to the evolution of the product line into Project Thunder, another initiative on the cards from EMC that extends VFCache to the network, small 2U or 4U offerings, TB of flash, millions of IO and strong integration with local VFCache systems

Most of the Project Thunder stuff is still under wraps, but it should be a very compelling offering, and an essential piece of larger VDI and heavy IO virtualization strategies, tech preview of this coming Q2 2012, probably at EMC World

6 years and rocking a 7.1 WEI

This weekend I decided to give my aging PC a bit of a make over, I picked up a Corsair SATA 3 120GB SSD and 8GB of Corsair XMS2 DDR2 6400 memory during my first visit to the local Frys (what a dangerous place to go with a debit card!)

I had already decided to rebuild the system, but the new hardware purchases were kind of spur of the moment, my old system (with the Bios dated at 2007) was getting a little long in the tooth, and managed a respectable 6.2 WEI score, but used a mechanical drive and was humming along on 4GB of RAM due to some hardware failures a while back

This system was built in 2006 with a first generation Core 2 Duo 1.86Ghz, 2GB DDR2, a GeForce 7950 graphics card and an Asus P5WDG2 WS Professional board.  The board is the critical component here, and while it doesn’t sport newer tech like USB3 or SATAIII, it was an expensive and top of the line board in its day, which is no doubt the reason I have survived so long with it as the core of my system

Over the years numerous upgrades have happened, including the system being moved piece by piece from the UK to the US when I emigrated in 2008

it now sports a 2.4Ghz Core 2 Quad, 8GB DDR2 6400, ATI Radeon 5700 HD, Corsair SATA 3 SSD, and it’s like a completely new system


Windows runs VERY fast off of the SSD, boot times are still not brilliant, owing to the aging BIOS with its old school linear boot cycles, but the system still boots relatively fast, and once in I really feel the difference

Both my laptop and tablet have SSDs in so I was really feeling the sluggishness of my PC, and this minor purchase sure made the difference

I have had a few friends say they really only ever thought of putting SSDs in mobile devices for the battery benefits, and that the capacity was a real challenge for them, but on a desktop with near unlimited drive scalability it’s not hard for me to have a 2TB Data drive (or on my case, 3 of them) and an SSD for the boot device

I install most of my games and larger apps into the Data drive, including Visual Studio SDK files, iTunes music etc, but the critical windows and application components run off of the SSD and perform outstandingly.  This is one upgrade I shouldn’t have waited so long for.