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Marvell Tackles The I/O Problem

Marvell Technology Group--primarily known for its storage, communications and consumer silicon solutions--is unveiling a virtual storage accelerator that addresses the I/O choke-point that has been plaguing the IT industry for years. The company says that its DragonFly VSA board, which plugs directly into all commercially available servers, will deliver 10x server I/O performance; reduce network-attached storage/storage-area network/direct-attached storage (NAS/SAN/DAS) costs by more than 50 percent; and cut power and space costs.

"For the first time in many years, the industry has started to really do something about fixing the I/O problem we've been suffering from for decades," says analyst Arun Taneja. "We've seen the performance gains in processors from Intel ... we've gone through the roof in improvement in CPU, but on the disk side ... it's so pathetic".

While Marvell isn't the only vendor addressing the I/O bottleneck, it is somewhat unique in that it is doing so from the server rather than the storage side. "It's absolutely a paradigm-shifting thing that they've done," says Teneja. "I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't underestimating the gain you can get from this."

As an industry-standard PCIe adapter, the DragonFly VSA offers a turn-key appliance-on-a-card that fits seamlessly into all commercially available rack-mount servers and operates system-independently.

Its distributed host I/O cache employs a two-level cache for very low-latency and high-burst throughput. The two levels comprise a Level 1 non-volatile DRAM cache and a Level 2 cache created from off-the-shelf commodity solid-state drives (SSDs). Marvell says that the cache is storage protocol-agnostic and can be configured to serve as a data cache for DAS, SAN or NAS arrays.

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