Application Accelerator Reviews
Enterprise application accelerator reviews focus in on both intensive synthetic workloads as well as real world application performance. Application accelerators generally take the shape of a PCIe card and come in a variety of NAND flavors including SLC, eMLC and MLC. While MLC NAND is preferred for high density application accelerators with capacities up to 2.2TB, some vendors prefer eMLC or SLC NAND for a better performance profile. Storage vendors also often pair caching software with these types of solutions, to let the cards accelerate larger pools of spindle-based storage.
by Josh Linden

Memblaze PBlaze3H and PBlaze3L Application Accelerator Review

Memblaze offers a dizzying array of configurations for PBlaze3 across 38 different capacities as part Memblaze's Pianokey technology. In addition to the MLC-based drives evaluated for this review, both drives are also available in SLC editions. Pianokey and other core components of the PBlaze3 platform are built with Memblaze's own proprietary technologies which is one reason to keep an eye on their emerging new product lines. One of the advantages that Memblaze argues for its products over comparable drives is that the card provides most of the computational and DRAM requirements for its operation, reducing PBlaze3's operational overhead to the host system.

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by StorageReview Enterprise Lab

Fusion-io ioDrive2 Duo MLC Application Accelerator Review

The Fusion-io ioDrive2 Duo MLC is a full-height half-length (FHHL) application accelerator that provides up to 2.4TB of capacity via x8 PCI Express slot. Fusion-io cards are notorious for their throughput performance as well as their low latencies, the combination of which drives some of the best responsiveness in the industry. Fusion-io's ioDrive2 cards are all fundamentally all the same, with hardware differences that differentiate. In this case, the ioDrive2 Duo combines a second controller and doubles the NAND pool compared to a standard ioDrive2. Fusion-io is also using MLC in this iteration, meaning users can get twice the capacity when compared to the SLC versions of the drives. Performance wise the MLC and SLC ioDrive2 Duo cards perform pretty similarly, the most obvious differences come in read latency, 68µs for the MLC and 47µs for the SLC, and endurance.

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by Kevin OBrien

OCZ ZD-XL SQL Accelerator Review

The OCZ ZD-XL SQL Accelerator is a duty-specific combination of hardware and software designed explicitly, as the name implies, to accelerate SQL databases. ZD-XL leverages an OCZ Z-Drive R4 RM series PCIe application accelerator as the flash storage layer combined with a host application to either accelerate a SQL volume on hard drives or accelerate a SQL database by placing it in flash. Its biggest differentiator though is a third option; if the situation calls for it ZD-XL can do both - accelerate a SQL volume on the flash card and cache large databases that reside on HDDs. 

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by StorageReview Enterprise Lab

Micron P420m Enterprise PCIe SSD Review

The Micron P420m is an enterprise application accelerator that ranges up to 1.4TB in total capacity that leverages the PCIe interface and is uniquely offered in both a half-height, half-length (HHHL) and 2.5" form factors. Micron has opted for 25nm MLC NAND for the P420m to meet not only mainstream market requirements for performance and reliability, but also to provide a more cost-effective and higher capacity offering than their P320h which is paired with SLC NAND. The other core difference between the P420m and the P320h is that Micron has added capacitors to protect in-flight data in the event of an unplanned loss of power. The additional data protection feature keeps the card powered long enough to flush all writes to the NAND, giving enterprises one more layer of data protection. The HHHL card interfaces via PCIe Gen2 x8 to achieve sequential read performance up to 3.3GB/s with writes up to 630MB/s and random reads up to 750,000 IOPS and 95,000 IOPS for write activity. The 2.5" interfaces over PCIe Gen2 x4 for up to 1.8GB/s and 430,000 IOPS, respectively. 

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by StorageReview Enterprise Lab

Huawei Tecal ES3000 Application Accelerator Review

The Huawei Tecal ES3000 is a family of full-height half-length enterprise application accelerators that leverage MLC NAND in capacities up to 2.4TB and PCIe interface (2.0 x8). On the surface the Huawei cards sound similar to many other products on the market, but a deeper look reveals a unique triple controller design that joins two PCBs together to form an impressive offering. On the top end of the performance scale this means 3.2GB/s max read bandwidth and 2.8GB/s write. From a latency angle, all thee capacities can drive 49µs and write latency of 8µs. The cards have a number of additional features as well including enhanced error checking, power fail protection and mechanisms to drive enhanced endurance over the course of their life. 

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by StorageReview Enterprise Lab

Fusion-io ioDrive2 MLC Application Accelerator Review (1.2TB)

The Fusion-io ioDrive2 MLC application accelerator comes in capacities up to 1.2TB in a half-height half-length (HHHL) form factor (or 3TB in FHHL) and is highlighted by exceedingly low read and write access latencies. While we've previously reviewed the ioDrive2 flagship Duo SLC, which is great for the most demanding applications, the ioDrive2 single drive with MLC is designed for more "pedestrian" workloads. Pedestrian in ioMemory language though means applications like databases that can accept read latencies of 68µs, compared to the 47µs latency found in the higher-end SLC ioDrive2. Of course offering the drive with MLC NAND brings with it benefits like reduced cost, and the MLC iteration also comes in higher capacities. The ioDrive2 single MLC comes in at a maximum 1.2TB capacity in HHHL or 3TB in FHHL, while the SLC Duo tops out at 600GB and 1.2TB respectively (though the Duo featured with MLC maxes at 1.2TB HHHL and 2.4TB FHHL capacities).

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by Kevin OBrien

Micron P320h 2.5" PCIe Application Accelerator Review

In March of last year, Micron announced a new 2.5" form factor for their P320h application accelerator card. PCIe cards have been the de facto standard for any enterprise looking to drive maximum responsiveness from their storage. The form factor does suffer though from issues that don't bother traditional 2.5" and 3.5" form factors such as hot swapability. It's rarely practical to power down a server and remove it from a rack to service the storage inside. Thus, the 2.5" PCIe form factor enables the speed that the PCIe interface can deliver, with the serviceability that standard drives offer. Of course a new interface means little without server support, and as part of the announcement from Micron, Dell stepped up with server support for the new drives in many of their 12th Gen PowerEdge servers. The Dell servers, like our Dell PowerEdge R720 12G with Express Flash (Dell's branding of 2.5" PCIe), offers up to four 2.5" P320h drives accessible by standard access in the front of the server via a specialized backplane.

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by Kevin OBrien

LSI Nytro WarpDrive BLP4-400 Application Accelerator Review

The LSI Nytro WarpDrive BLP4-400 is a half-height half-length PCIe application accelerator that offers 400GB of eMLC NAND. Like the WLP4-200 200GB SLC model we have reviewed previously, the BLP4-400 combines four NAND pools leveraging SandForce controllers into a single storage volume. The drive is designed to be easy to deploy; the universal form factor slots easily into most servers, and thanks to LSI's background in HBAs and RAID cards, the WarpDrive usually doesn't require additional software or drivers to be installed. The WarpDrive family is as close as it gets to plug and play in an enterprise flash storage environment.

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by Kevin OBrien

Fusion-io ioDrive2 Duo SLC Application Accelerator Review (1.2TB)

The Fusion-io ioDrive2 Duo is a full-height, half-length application accelerator that, when paired with SLC NAND, offers 1.2TB of low-latency, high-endurance storage for today's most demanding applications. While branded as a second generation product, the naming is somewhat misleading as Fusion-io has long been a pioneer in the memory-as-storage range with their assorted ioMemory products. That experience shows not just in product development and spec sheet highlights, but all the way through to management as well; Fusion-io boasts the most robust drive management software suite on the market with ioSphere. Still, pretty software and proven drive design are only part of the equation. Enterprises deploy these products with one goal in mind; reduce application response times by attacking storage system latency. The SLC iteration of the ioDrive2 brings laser-focus to this issue, offering read access latency of 47µs and write access latency of 15µs. This compares to read access latency of 68µs in the MLC-based ioDrive2 (they have the same write latency) and while roughly 20µs doesn't sound like much, it can be a virtual eternity for applications that have been tuned for use with flash storage.

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by Kevin OBrien

Virident FlashMAX II MLC Application Accelerator Review (2.2TB)

The Virident FlashMAX II is a half-height, half-length PCIe application accelerator (AA) that's available with MLC flash media. The FlashMAX II is available in capacities up to 2.2TB, making it the largest available AA in this form factor. As with any product in this class however, density may be nice but ultimately performance is a substantial driver of adoption. The FlashMAX II offers mixed 4K IOPS (75% read, 25% write) of up to 200,000, along with 325,000 4K read IOPS.

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