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By | Chris Mellor 27th January 2010 06:02

Avere adds flash to filer accelerator

Missing tier arrives

Avere announced its FXT filer accelerator appliance last year with a missing flash storage tier. It's filled that gap with the FXT 2700 adding the flash for extra filer dash.

Avere burst onto the network-attached storage (NAS) with a 4-tier architecture FTX NAS accelerator appliance containing DRAM, NVRAM and 15K SAS disk to speed back-end filer read/write access. Now it's added NAND flash to the mix, speeding up random read performance.

The Avere pitch is that different kinds of file read and write I/O are best handled by different storage media tiers. It stores file data on different tiers according to the kind of I/O, such as random read, sequential write and suchlike.

Avere's operating system (OS) monitors and analyses data access frequency patterns and workload type and automatically manages data placement on the appropriate storage tier to boost performance. The results were impressive with 100,000+ IOPS scores on the SPECsfs2008 NFS benchmark for Avere's kit.

The FXT 2700 appliance comes in a 2U form factor with 64GB of DRAM, 1GB of NVRAM, and 512GB of Flash. It has redundant power and network ports and is either two 10GbitE and two 1GbitE network ports or ten 1GbitE ports.

The flash is single level cell (SLC) Intel X25 product. Avere CEO Ron Bianchini said Intel had a roadmap for the product with a process shrink, higher capacity and increased performance on it. With its help the FXT 2700 is claimed to provide up to a 10x improvement in random read access for apps such as 3D rendering, CAD/CAE things like chip design, database acceleration and seismic data analysis.

He claims that it is much more cost-effective to put an FXT 2700 in front of NAS filers that hold bulk data, and speed up access to them, whatever the I/O mode, than by adding more disks to the filers - increasing spindle counts, or adding more filers.

Adding an FXT front-end can be more beneficial than adding flash caches to individual filers, such as the PAM (Performance Acceleration Module) card offered by NetApp. It would certainly be cheaper than sticking an entire NFS working set in flash.

FXT machines can be grouped in a 25-node cluster , with up to 12.8TB of flash in an FXT 2700 cluster plus 1.6TB of DRAM. The Avere O/S distributes workloads across a cluster of FXT appliances.

We should probably expect a SPECSfs2008 NFS benchmark for the FXT 2700 to come out shortly. It's likely to be another impressive result given the 100,000+ IOPS achieved without flash help in the existing benchmarks.

The FXT 2700 is available now with list pricing starting at $82,500. ®

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