Fusion-io Creates Flash-Optimized OS Subsystem

Flash-based storage is as hot as a storage technology gets and has a number of startups jockeying for position in the market. In an attempt to pull away from the pack, Fusion-io today debuted a flash-optimized OS subsystem called the ioMemory VSL (Virtual Storage Layer).

The Fusion-io ioMemory VSL is a hybrid system that combines the block-level reading and writing capabilities of traditional I/O subsystems with the features of a virtual memory subsystem. It is an approach that virtualizes Fusion-io’s ioMemory devices and merges memory and storage.

“On the bottom it looks like a memory device and on the top it looks like an I/O device. It is not strictly a storage device and it is not strictly memory. It’s a hybrid that provides a new building block for storage,” said David Flynn, CEO, Fusion-io. “This is truly a platform play.”

Flynn said VSL presents programmers with an opportunity to develop powerful functions for applications, file systems and other pieces of the infrastructure and to exploit ioMemory to improve the throughput, response times, and reliability features of solid state.

Flynn points to TRIM as an extension of the VSL. The TRIM command enables an operating system to tell an SSD which data blocks are no longer in use, allowing a controller to reclaim unused blocks, boosting the speed and overall read and write performance of SSDs.

“Allocation, lookup and the freeing of blocks is about 70% of a file system implementation,” Flynn said.

Existing software such as file systems, volume managers, and applications will be able to access ioMemory without modification.

The ioMemory VSL will be released next week as a part of Fusion-io’s second-generation software stack. Products based on the VSL as well as programming APIs will be made available over time, according to Flynn.

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Kevin Komiega
Kevin Komiega is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor.

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