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LSI launches Nytro Architecture PCIe flash family

LSI combines its WarpDrive and MegaRAID PCIe flash platforms into the Nytro family of solid state accelerators cards with caching and management software.

LSI Corp. today launched its Nytro Architecture product family which combines PCIe flash technology, intelligent caching and management software to accelerate performance for direct attached storage (DAS) and storage area networks (SANs) used in real-time ‘big data’ analytics systems.

The high-performance Nytro WarpDrive application acceleration cards are second-generation server-based adapters that use SandForce flash storage processors (LSI acquired SandForce Inc. in October 2011). The WarpDrive adapter cards are based on a modular architecture with a capacity range of between 200 GB to 3.2 TB of multi-level cell (MLC) and single-level cell (SLC) flash memory.

The newest WarpDrive adapters are designed to accelerate performance only in DAS configurations by putting the compute power and storage closer together. The device targets online transaction-processing web servers, data analytics and warehousing, data mining and high performance computing.

“This is for customers that just want raw speed,” said Steve Fingerhut, LSI’s vice president of marketing accelerated solutions division.

LSI also bundled its Nytro WarpDrive with the company’s CacheCade software, which is now branded the Nytro XD intelligent caching software. The WarpDrive card with the XD software is called the Nytro XD Application Acceleration Storage Solution. It works with DAS or SAN configurations, supporting SAS, Fibre Channel and iSCSI. 

The bundled XD software monitors data traffic and places frequently-accessed hot data on the flash in the Nytro WarpDrive adapter for accelerated performance and leaves cold data stored in the array. Fingerhut said LSI fine-tuned the CacheCade algorithms so that the new Nytro XD software could extend its caching capabilities out into the SAN for primary storage.

“CacheCade only worked with servers,” said Henry Baltazar, storage analyst for the 451 Group. ”Now with Nytro XD, it can cache to the SAN. You are not confined to accelerate in the server. You can accelerate in a storage device. At this point, Nytro does not support virtualization. That will come in a future release. So for now, Nytro only supports standalone servers.”

LSI also embedded its existing Nytro MegaRAID cards with flash and bundled the XD caching software for SAS-connected DAS configurations. The RAID controllers also move data between integrated flash storage and hard drives for high performance and high capacity storage.

“Before LSI had the standalone WarpDrive, the standalone MegaRAID and the CacheCade,” said Baltazar. “With the Nytro family, they are bundling everything together. It’s more of a bundling strategy. The main thing is they are using the software to create differentiation in the market so customers have a reason to buy their PCI flash. The flash market is very competitive.”

LSI also is introducing its Nytro Predictor software, an analysis and reporting tool which customers can use to help determine which Nytro product should be used with the right applications. The software analyzes application hot spots for frequently used data.

The WarpDrive is sold by EMC as part of its VFCache server-based cache product, but is considered the second source for that product behind a Micron PCIe card.

LSI is continuing its OEM model with the Nytro family. The WarpDrive costs $6,000, and pricing for the Nytro WarpDrive and XD product starts at $9,400. Pricing for the Nytro MegaRAID cards starts at $1,699.

The Nytro family combines product lines that were previously in LSI’s WarpDrive and MegaRAID platforms.

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