Adaptec, Intel Team To Add SSD Cache To Existing Storage Arrays

Adaptec on Wednesday unveiled its MaxIQ SSD Cache Performance Solution, which pairs up to four 32-GB Intel X25-E Extreme SATA SSDs with its Series 5000 or Series 2000 controllers to increase the I/O performance of hard drive-based arrays by up to five times, said Sundi Sundaresh, president and CEO.

MaxIQ adds SSDs as a cache to customers' existing arrays to bring them the benefits of SSD performance, including the ability to cut the cost of storage hardware, Sundaresh said.

Adaptec is introducing the MaxIQ at a time when customers are shifting their focus in the data center from price and performance to looking at the total cost of ownership, Sundaresh said.

The company is helping with that shift with its data-conditioning strategy, which aims to provide a unified storage management platform with zero maintenance, increased power management and increased performance, he said. "And we're making sure we remain compatible with customers' existing equipment," he said.

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The addition of SSDs as cache helps increase the performance and capacity of existing storage arrays by cutting the need for expensive DRAM in servers and short-stroking of hard drives, said Scott Cleland, director of marketing at Adaptec.

Short-stroking hard drives is a process whereby partitions in a hard drive are turned off to increase performance by decreasing the distance a drive head has to move to read or write data. However, short-stroking results in a significant decrease in the capacity of a hard drive.

"Customers get a transparent, seamless boost by just dropping MaxIQ into their system," Cleland said. "They only have to install the cache SSD to the RAID. With only a couple of clicks, they immediately have faster performance, or can serve additional users."

MaxIQ can be used to cache a single drive, a bunch of drives or a RAID pool, Cleland said.

The use of SSDs to cache existing and new storage helps scale storage performance to catch up with increases in processor performance, said Seth Bobroff, general manager for Intel's Server Platforms group.

Between 1996 and 2009, processor performance has scaled about 175 times thanks to the adoption of multicore technology, while hard drive performance has scaled by only 1.3 times, Bobroff said.

"SSDs help bring the platform back into balance between cost and performance using spinning disk and other media for older data and SSDs for hot data," he said.

Adaptec's MaxIQ SSD Cache Performance Kit, which includes one 32-GB Intel X25-E Extreme SATA SSD and the Adaptec software to integrate the solution, is now available with a list price of $1,295.

It is initially available through Adaptec's distributors and solution providers, and may be available to its OEM partners in the near future, Sundaresh said.