Fusion-io ioXtreme PCI Express SSD Review

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Introduction and Specifications


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



NAND Flash Components

Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND Flash Memory


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

Read Latency

80 microseconds


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

    • 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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