Been working with 2 PCIE Fusion cards testing out performance for my SQL Server simulation database. I also have a raid set of 3 Intel X25-E SSDs. This is a technology to take seriously. The folks at Fusion have been most helpful. I will be putting together more results over next couple of weeks, but the below spreadsheet outlines the case for PCIE based cards. I am using 1 Fusion IODrive 320GB in a Dell 690, one SLC 160GB drive in a Dell R610 and have another 160GB SLC on the way to put into the R610. Would love to try out a duo, but out of budget. I was able to install Windows Server 2008 and fire up the O/S in about 4 minutes onto a VM under Hyper-V using the card. I plan to do it again with 2 cards raid-0 together and put it on UTube – should finish in less than 2 minutes.
These cards are a great option for 1U Servers. The Dell 1U Server is fairly limited as far as card slots. To run 2 cards, I had to remove the extra network card to make room for a second Fusion, since there is also a Perc Controller card in the system. So, I had to choose between network redundancy and storage performance/redundancy in order to also have a fast onboard storage controller. A better option is probably to use DUO cards for these servers or get them without the Perc controller and just use onboard for bootup/OS. In any case, 1 Fusion SLC is going to outperform 6 SSDs for most operations, even if on paper the 6 SSDs together might look better because the controller becomes a bottleneck, even with SATA III, especially if you want to have RAID protection. The nice thing about the Fusion card is that a RAID-5 protocol is built into the interface as parity chips are used for write operations. For a production system, I would still probably want to RAID-1 2 cards together, to guard against a complete card failure.
For now, I have results in the attached spreadsheet from my old Dell 690 workstation showing IOMeter results for standard drive, multiple Intel SLC SSDs, and a Fusion 320 card running in “improved performance mode”. As you can see when reaching higher queue depths, a single Fusion IO is roughly twice as quick as 3 SLC SSDs raided together and dozens of times faster than standard hard drives and about half as slow as an in-memory RAM disk. In my stock simulation database, I am now loading intraday data, and have several million rows. The other day, I added a new computed persisted field to one of the tables and it took less than 2 minutes to update over 3 million rows.
That’s all I have time for now, will post more hopefully over next couple of weeks including results of using 2 Fusion-IO 160GB SLC cards in a R610 and some comparison differences with SQL Server running on the Fusion cards versus standard storage and the Intel SSDs.