Tuesday LSI Corp announced the WarpDrive SLP-300 PCIe-based acceleration card, offering 300 GB of SLC solid state storage and performance up to 240,000 sustained IOPS. It also delivers I/O performance equal to hundreds of mechanical hard drives while consuming less than 25W of power–all for a meaty $11,500 USD.
This is the cost of entry for anyone working on an Enterprise Level project. You cannot participate unless you can cross the threshold of a PCIe card costing $11,500 USD. This is the first time I have seen an actual price quote on one of these cards that swims in the Data center consulting and provisioning market. Fusion-io cannot be too far off of this price when it’s not sold as a full package as part of a larger project RFP. I am somewhat stunned at the price premium, but LSI is a top engineering firm and they definitely can design their own custom silicon to get the top speed out of just about any commercial off the shelf Flash memory chips. I am impressed they went with the PCI Express (8X) 8 lane interface. I’m guessing that’s a requirement for more server owners whereas 4X is for the desktop market. Still I don’t see any 16X interfaces as of yet (that’s the interface most desktops use for their graphics cards from AMD and nVidia). One more part that makes this a premium offering is the choice of Single Level Cell Flash memory chips for the ultimate in speed and reliability along with the Serial Attached Storage interface onboard the PCIe card itself. Desktop models opt for SATA to PCI-X to PCI-e bridge chips forcing you to translate and re-order your data multiple times. I have a feel SAS bridges to PCI-e at the full 8X interface speeds and that is the key to getting faster than 1,000 MB/sec. speeds for write and reads. This part is quoted as getting in the range of ~1,400 MB/sec. and other than some very expensive turnkey boxes from manufacturers like Violin, this is a great user installable part to get the benefit of a really fast SSD drive array on a PCIe card.