EMC Unveils VFCache Enterprise Flash Storage Solution

EMC announced its new VFCache (formerly known as “Project Lightning”), a PCIe-based enterprise flash storage solution that uses both hardware and intelligent caching software to deliver speedy access to data. EMC claims that it can reduce latency by 60% and increase performance threefold.

VFCache works with EMC’s own FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering) technology, which dynamically assigns more “active” data to faster, lower-latency storage and puts “inactive” data on less expensive, high-capacity storage. If that sounds like the large-scale enterprise version of smart caching, that’s because it essentially is, except with policy settings and administrator control.

The enhanced performance is buffered by Symmetrix VMAX and VMAXe and EMC VNX and VNXe, which ensure all the availability, reliability, recovery, and data integrity needed in the enterprise.

EMC pegs the introduction of VFCache as making a “leap from storage to server”. The company’s upcoming “Project Thunder” appears to be an evolution of this technology from PCIe cards to a dedicated flash-based server network appliance that EMC promises “will deliver I/Os measured in millions and timed in microseconds”.

EMC VFCache Signifies a New Era for Enterprise Flash Technology—Makes Leap from Storage to Server

Together, EMC VFCache and EMC Storage Bring PCIe Flash Benefits to Mainstream Mission Critical Applications—Delivers Lightning-Fast Performance, Intelligence and Enterprise-Class Protection
Hopkinton, MA—February 6, 2012—EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC ) today introduced EMC VFCache™, a new server Flash caching solution. Together, VFCache and EMC Flash-enabled storage systems dramatically improve application performance by leveraging intelligent software and PCIe Flash technology—testing resulted in up-to 3X increased throughput while reducing latency by 60%. With today's announcement, EMC is extending Flash technology to the server and evolving the benefits of PCIe Flash technology from edge case social media and internet to mainstream mission critical applications such as Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP. Now databases (CRP, ERM), OLTP, email, Web, and reporting—any read-intensive workloads with cacheable working sets—can benefit from the powerful performance benefits of PCIe Flash.

VFCache combined with VMAX , VMAXe , VNX and VNXe storage delivers turbocharged performance with the protection (high availability, data integrity, reliability, and disaster recovery) for which EMC storage is trusted around the world. While VFCache is the next evolutionary step of EMC's Flash strategy—requiring no disruption to customers' existing storage architectures—it delivers revolutionary benefits.

VFCache is the latest in a line of enterprise Flash innovation firsts, beginning in 2008 when EMC was the first to integrate Flash drives into an enterprise storage array. Putting Flash drives into the storage array achieved an order of magnitude better performance—300X faster data access than 15K HDD. Now, placing Flash technology in the server on a PCIe card can accelerate performance up-to another order of magnitude—4000X faster data access than 15K HDD.

Coming in the next year, EMC will add deduplication technology to VFCache, enabling customers to achieve even more efficiency from Flash technology. Additional Flash capacity and form factors will also be supported. VFCache will also more deeply integrate with EMC storage management technologies, and additional integration with FAST architecture. EMC's vision for VFCache is delivering the industry's most comprehensive, efficient and intelligent I/O path from the application to the data store. The result will be a networked infrastructure that is dynamically optimized for performance, intelligence, and protection for both physical and virtual environments.
EMC VFCache Technology Benefits

Turbocharged Performance: VFCache is the fastest PCIe server Flash caching solution available today. VFCache resides in the server, eliminating the need for hot data to travel through the network to the storage array—boosting throughput performance in some cases up-to 3X and reducing latency by 60%. EMC is offering the industry's best architecture—the PCIe Flash cards deliver better throughput and response, while using four times less CPU and memory resources than competing solutions.
Automated Intelligence: VFCache is enabling a new tier of high performance storage in the server. VFCache extends the EMC FAST architecture to facilitate an intelligent end-to-end data tiering and caching strategy from the storage to the server. EMC 's focus on enabling customers to exploit the cost and performance benefits of FAST technology has catapulted EMC 's leadership in enterprise Flash ( see related announcement ).
Enterprise-Class Protection: VFCache enables customers to benefit from total protection with "write-through caching" to the storage array. When data is written to VMAX, VMAXe, VNX or VNXe storage, customers have the confidence of knowing data is protected by the industry's highest availability storage with data integrity, data reliability and disaster recovery. The information remains shareable and scalable—without any stranded storage.

EMC also plans an early customer access program for "Project Thunder" in the second quarter of 2012. "Project Thunder," optimized for high-frequency, low-latency read/write workloads, will build upon the advanced PCIe technology delivered in VFCache to leverage the power of Flash through a dedicated server networked Flash-based appliance.