Intel’s Accelerator Faster Than SSDs Alone

Intel has developed a cache-acceleration software package—tested against its own products, of course—that it claims accelerates individual applications beyond SSD speeds.

The new Cache Acceleration Software (CAS) for Linux prioritizes applications, optimizing how virtual machines access storage. The software creates a new tier of applications, working with the server’s own memory to create a multi-level cache solution. Intel already ships a Windows CAS version; the Linux version of the software will be generally available within 30 days as an enterprise subscription and open source release, the company said.

Intel claims the new software can run an application “significantly” faster than if it was wholly stored on an SSD: Compared to short-stroked hard-drive technology, it has seen up to 50 times the improvement in I/O performance throughput for read-intensive workloads by adding Intel CAS to its own Intel SSD 910 series. The improvements can be applied to specific applications, files, VM or even individual database tables via the user interface, in which users can select what applications are included or excluded, as well as the overall data acceleration.

Software to manage an SSD has evolved into a standard component of most SSDs, but the ability to add DRAM to the mix is less common. What Intel is proposing is somewhat similar to the Micron-Agiga partnership disclosed earlier this month, which centered on a DRAM module combined with flash. Intel’s solution, however, will be immediately available and utilize current technologies.

Supported applications include I/O intensive applications, including databases, Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, plus transactional web servers. The new CAS software runs on top of, and has been validated for, Intel’s Intel SSD DC S3700 series and Intel SSD 910 Series for the data center; however, heterogeneous storage environments (which include SAN, local disk, RAID, iSCSI, or Fiber Channel) are also supported. Intel’s CAS software already runs on 64-bit Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2; the new Linux flavor adds support for 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5/6, CentOS 5/6, plus SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1.

Although hardware manufacturers are continuing to invest in ways to accelerate data transfer and computation through physical improvements, an equally intelligent route is to prioritize where data is stored and accessed. It may be hard to believe that a future exists where an SSD is considered to be too slow for the hottest of “hot” data, but Intel’s CAS and related technologies imply that could eventually become reality.


Image: kubais/

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