Fusion-io ioXtreme PCI Express SSD Review - HotHardware

Fusion-io ioXtreme PCI Express SSD Review

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It's rare we get genuinely excited around here about a product.  To be honest, likely we're spoiled by all the bleeding-edge technology we have the great opportunity to look at week in and week out.  Or perhaps it's just that we're jaded a bit and have heard one too many marketing pitches, but truth be told it takes a lot to get us fired up about a new product or technology.  Sure we can appreciate and will occasionally hand out high praise for a major evolutionary advancement but we honestly can't remember the last time a product really officially "changed the game" for us, or so to speak.

The first time we looked at Fusion-io's ioDrive product, we offered the notion that it was a "disruptive technology", something that had the potential to set the industry on its ear.  Of course the ioDrive is an enterprise-class product that showed the significant potential of PCI Express direct-attached SSD storage but its cost structure was such that the mainstream market couldn't possibly even begin to justify it, no matter what the upside performance looked like.  And then of course we heard of Fusion-io's more consumer-targeted play, the ioXtreme, which debuted at E3 this past summer.

Obviously, E3 is a consumer electronics entertainment venue so it became abundantly clear that Fusion-io wasn't only productizing their technology for the enterprise space but for the enthusiast, workstation professional and power user as well.  Today we've got a full deep-dive look at Fusion-io's ioXtreme PCI Express Solid State Drive.  Weighing in at a pricey $899 for 80GB (standard card), it's definitely still a high ticket item but it's at least approachable now, for those of you that have the need for speed as they say. Just how much speed?  And what about RAIDing a couple of these bad boys together? We aim to quantify that for you, as well as a couple of the product's early release caveats, in the pages ahead.


Precious Cargo - Click for high res

Capacity

80GB

NAND Flash Components

Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND Flash Memory

Bandwidth

Up to 700MB/s Read Speeds
Up to 280MB/s Write Speeds

Read Latency

80 microseconds

Interface

PCI-Express X4

Form factor

Half Height PCIe Card

Power consumption

Meets PCI Express x4 power spec 1.1

Operating temperature

-40°C to +70°C

ROHS Compliance

Meets the requirements of EU RoHS Compliance Directive

Operating Systems

Linux, Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7


        MSRP:
    • ioXtreme: $895
    • ioXtreme Pro: $1499
    • ioXtreme Bundle: $1995



In terms of its high level specification the ioXtreme reads a lot like previous Fusion-io products with a half-height PCI Express X4 card design and a total 80GB capacity for the current product offering.  Bandwidth-wise the ioXtreme claims a mind-boggling 700MB/sec of read throughput and a more modest 280MB/sec of write throughput.  That said, in the pages ahead you'll notice that write number is a tad on the conservative side perhaps, depending on what you're doing with it.  You can also configure multiple ioXtreme Pro cards together with what Fusion-io calls their Xlink technology that works over a PCI Express link.  Three cards can offer an outrageous 2.1GB/sec of read throughput, as is shown in the diagram above.

The ioXtreme is also built on less expensive MLC NAND flash, unlike its big brother the ioDrive, which is an SLC-based product.  Finally, as you can see, the ioXtreme supports multiple operating systems including Windows 7.  Unfortunately, a bit of a let-down for some might be, that the product still currently can't be utilized as a boot volume.  Fusion-io assures us that this feature will be supported in future driver and/or firmware revisions but also didn't commit to a schedule for that roll-out just yet.

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That is so sick! I've already ordered the package of both!

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I also ordered TWO of that package!!!

 

jk jk - this is a huge ripoff as I don't have ANYTHING that could benefit from this speed.

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Yeah, I ordered four of them so I could power my 486 DX40 in a new way.

It's probably not compatible with the 8088,...................

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Well now with Sata 6.0Gbps coming to market hopefully we'll be able to see these kind of speeds out of 2.5" drives. Or maybe someone will FINALLY make an awesome 3.5" drive. It would be a smart next move in this market I would think. Not sure why no one has done it yet. You can fit more hardware in a 3.5" drive. Which would mean, more speed and higher capacity. And with a new bus I would think that would = pure awesome :-)

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$11/GB is just way way too much. The extra speed doesn't justify the price bumb from cheaper SSDs.

Still, having "Upto 700MB/sec read speeds" will make you happy like a fat kid on cake.

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I mus t be the only one who's not getting these things.

They said they would be bootable, but they're not.  So for TYPICAL users, who's biggest value proposition is to use an SSD as their boot/application drive, this is massively less useful than if it was bootable. 

And as acarzt noted, SATA 6.0 Gbps is coming soon, and in fact you can buy a SATA 6.0 Gbps PCIe card (which also has USB 2.0 ports on it) from ASUS for only $30.  Since many current SSDs are likely maxed out by the SATA 3.0 Gbps limits, this may change things sigificantly once SSDs with SATA 6.0 start shipping.

These cards have worse random access characterstics than the Intel drives.

These cards are using rather more CPU than they should.  It isn't just scaling with the performance increase vs. an SSD.  Its something like double that.  Why?  And that's even before you're forced to use software RAID which will make things worse.

An obvious alternative in a week would be to buy some OCZ Collosus 3.5" drives.  They're supposed to be $300 each for 128GB.  And unlike the Fusion, the Collosus CAN boot the system and CAN use hardware RAID.  For $1200 you could buy FOUR of these and configure them in hardware RAID 0.  Which would mean you've effectively got EIGHT logical SSDs going in parallel.  Sure that likely doesn't make a lot of sense but it would be cheaper than the Fusion-io and have over six times the storage, as well as supporting hardware RAID, etc.

Why is this so great again?  Its about to be overcome by the thundering herd of follow-ons to existing SSDs in traditional form factors that will sell in numbers that will dwarf this thing and put this company out of business.

Buy one for an Enterprise database application?  Sure.  For typical users, I still don't get it.

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they were being sarcastic lol

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MY POST WAS DRIPPING SARCASM

 

Even though SATA-6 is not as wild a woolly as is was meant to be,...........(it's just a specification at this point and any new SATA-6 drives on the market today do not achieve sustained 600 MB speeds) it's being touted as the new holy grail of computing. But so far It doesn't work at anywhere near the speeds it's supposed to.

These PCI-E cards are nowhere near where they should be in performance either,  for the price they're asking for them. (like SATA-6) It's the "New-Tax" I think, and most of us don't play that crap because we find ourselves based in financial reality. These cards are too frigging much money. The only people you'll hear crowing about them are people with a lot of money to play with or folks who get to test/review them for free. Yes, right now, Intel SSD's out perform these in some ways, but they are way too expensive also.

I think that the whole drive performance landscape will be drastically changed in two years time and that it will be time for us mainstream guys to hop aboard the truly high speed express.

(before you reply to this post folks, I realize that these drives are allot faster than what I have now)

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I have a pair of OCZ vertex drives in a RAID 0 and I hit read speeds of 400MB/s.... these things(the drives being reviewed) are Twice as fast by themselves and 3x as fast when raided!

I see little to no delay when opening programs. Everything Operates smoothly. Games when installed from the disc are just as slow as they would be on any other hard drive... Simply because my SSDs can  write faster than my ODD can read lol Games installed after being downloaded from the web.... watch out cuz those install crazy fast! lol

As far as in game load times... I really don't notice a difference between a normal disc drive and SSD. The SSDs definitely provide some nice performance advantages... But right now, it's really not worth the money lol These things are a High performance peice of equipment.... but there advantages apply more to moving massive amounts of data from one point to an other. They don't seem to offer much advantage in what a typical user will user them for. These drives aren't even meant to be constantly moving data, which is what they're good at, because the more you move around files, the quicker they are gonna die/slow down.

Of course I say all of this now, but if I switched over to a HDD base system i'd be complaining about how slow it is! lol

And before you ask... the OS and all programs and games are installed on the SSDs. All things like music, pictures, video, etc is stored on my 750GB HDD. I also have a 250GB HDD with nothing on it... I need to start ripping some DVDs lol.

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