Fusion-io vs Intel X25-M SSD RAID, Grudge Match Review - HotHardware

Fusion-io vs Intel X25-M SSD RAID, Grudge Match Review

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Disruptive technology; it's a term thrown around these days by industry marketing types and quite frankly it's just plain getting worn out as of late.  In the mid 90s, a Harvard Business School Professor coined this phrase to describe a product innovation that breaks current convention and exceeds market expectations so vastly that market leaders might not see it coming and perhaps even the market itself doesn't know how to react.  Since the term was brought forth, there were many innovations over the years that overzealous marketing types have hailed as "disruptive technologies," though obviously, in reality, this level of innovation is on a different scale all together.  However, a truly disruptive technology is unequivocally and unmistakably a game-changer.

Let's take NAND Flash memory for example.  A few years ago, the camera market was turned on its ear by the new storage technology and it has changed the landscape forever with digital cameras displacing film cameras almost completely now.  Then USB Flash sticks came along and of course the floppy drive then became extinct.  Disruptive enough for you?  In addition, it has become clear that there is yet another market the NAND Flash chip has set its disruptive sights on--secondary computer storage.  There is little question at this point, that SSD (Solid State Drive) technology will eventually supplant traditional rotational media, with perhaps the exception of large bulk storage arrays, at least for the time being.  Though it is debatable when the transition will reach critical mass beyond a few drives shipped in notebooks, some higher-end desktop configurations and the DIY niche'. 

However, is even the SATA SSD as we know it today, eventually going to end up on a proverbial endangered species list?  We'll leave you pondering that question as we take a competitive look at two SSD solutions that peg the performance scales with very different approaches to the technology.




  
Storage Of The Future - SATA SSD or PCIe? - Click for high res.

We've certainly heard of Fusion-io's bleeding edge PCI Express-based SSD solution (top right) but to date haven't yet gotten the chance to check it out on the test bench.  In addition, though we've put Intel's wonderfully fast X25-M SSD through its paces in stand alone testing, imagine what it would be like with up to four drives in RAID 0.  You see where we're going here, a battle royal of what is arguably some of the fastest SSD storage technology money can buy right now. 

So the stage is set but before we get into ripping up benchmarks, let's expand on what we think might be one of the paths solid state storage of the future might take on its disruptive journey through the valley of the hard disk dinosaur.  Let's drop down for a closer look at Fusion-io's 160GB ioDrive.  Does SATA have to watch its back?

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The problem I have with that is that it's volatile DRAM. I'm not sure how it works but does it have ROM on board to keep whatever image is on it from disappearing when the power goes down?

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Hi Dave,

Yes, you are right about that with the DRAM, it will lose all data if power is gone.  Therefore they have a battery pack (it charges everytime you turn on the computer).   The manufacture says the battery pack will able to keep the data in the DRAM for 2-3 years after one full charge.  The good thing is you can make use of your old DIMMs are make it a very fast 32G drives.

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Well I had the money, still wouldn't buy it. I would get  Area 1680ix with 4-6x vertex drivers. We be cheaper(ok, only by a grand or two) and it is bootable. This would be excellent if they could make it bootable.

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LaMpiR:

Well I had the money, still wouldn't buy it. I would get  Area 1680ix with 4-6x vertex drivers. We be cheaper(ok, only by a grand or two) and it is bootable. This would be excellent if they could make it bootable.

I'm told the ioXtreme (the coming next gen drive) will be bootable and though still around $10/G, will at least come in at around $895 for the 80G drive.  That said, not sure I'd waste 15 - 20G on an OS install just so it could boot faster but I'd load up all the apps and games I could on it for load time and responsiveness.

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I would think, all it would take is to put a PCI-E connection on the ioFusion card purely for booting purposes. Once it's booted and drivers are loaded it would switch to the PCI-E bus. It would be a simple fix.

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acarzt:

I would think, all it would take is to put a PCI-E connection on the ioFusion card purely for booting purposes. Once it's booted and drivers are loaded it would switch to the PCI-E bus. It would be a simple fix.


 

No this is definitely more of a firmware/BIOS compatibility thing.  A machine can boot off any PCIe target already.   That target just has to broadcast itself as bootable to the system.  Or at least I think that's the way it works, in layman's terms.  Smile

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I am curious why you used X25-M's & not Intel's X25-E. Would you have expected a big different had you done that?

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Hi Terence,

Well, it's the simple fact that Intel hasn't been sending many of these drives out to the press unfortunately. Those drives are also crazy expensive, 32GB for $348. Likely write speeds would have improved dramatically, though reads, not as much.

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