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LSI accelerates Project Lighting into Warp speed

EMC is set to officially launch its VFCache (code-name Project Lighting) product Feb. 6, but LSI filled in one  detail about the server-side flash caching product Wednesday.

LSI CEO Abhi Talwalkar said during his company’s earnings call that the WarpDrive PCI Express (PCIe) card will be used in the EMC product.

“We’re expanding and increasing our focus in storage and server application acceleration, bringing the performance advantage of the Flash to enterprise servers, storage and networking applications,” Talwalkar said. “We are pleased to be participating in the EMC Lightning program.”

The LSI WarpDrive holds 300 GB of single-level cell (SLC) flash, and Talwalkar said LSI is close to releasing a second-generation WarpDrive that includes SandForce storage processors and supports multi-level cell (MLC) and eMLC flash. LSI and Micron have frequently been mentioned as likely partners for the PCIe flash component ever since EMC previewed Project Lightning in May. Industry sources say it is likely that EMC will use two PCIe flash sources, with Micron’s P320h PCIe card as the other.

EMC demonstrated Project Lightning at VMworld and highlighted the technology last October at Oracle Open World. It uses EMC’s FAST tiering software and PCIe flash to improve application response time and throughput by servicing reads in flash while passing writes through to the storage array.

EMC will include PCIe flash and a SAN host bus adapter in an appliance called a VFCache Driver. The PCIe flash will be used to access read data stored in cache while writes will be passed through the HBA to storage.

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