Intel Pairs Caching Software With SSDs, Adds Linux Support

Intel Tuesday said it is offering the SSD caching software it got with last year's acquisition of Nevex together with Intel SSDs as a caching solution, and that the software will soon be updated to work in Linux environments.

The Linux version of that software, the Intel Cache Acceleration Software (CAS), will be available both via an enterprise subscription and through an open-source release, said Andrew Flint, CAS product manager at Intel, Santa Clara, Calif.

The software, Intel CAS 2.0, currently works in Microsoft Windows environments to increase application performance above other caching technologies customers employ on their application servers, including taking advantage of cache built into the CPU and using free server memory as a local cache, Flint said.

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"We don't want to duplicate what cache memory is doing," he said. "Instead, our software takes over that cache to put the 'white-hot' data in DRAM and other hot data on an SSD to form a two-level cache."

Most high-performance applications like databases have identifiable "white-hot" spots where top performance is needed, Flint said. "We make sure that data is in the server DRAM," he said. "But we also keep a copy in SSDs in case the server evicts the data from the DRAM. We control what data goes into DRAM, but we can't control when it is pushed out by the CPU."

Customer IT administrators can use Intel CAS 2.0 to determine which applications get accelerated by the cache while excluding other applications, Flint said.

"That ensures a higher caching rate for key applications to increase performance while ensuring other applications don't push data out of the cache," he said. "We're not just providing performance, we're also keeping that performance consistent."

Intel CAS 2.0 supports caching to non-volatile memory flash, and supports VMware's VMotion and Microsoft Hyper-V's Live Migration while maintaining a hot cache, Flint said.

"Virtual machines bounce from host to host via the SSD on a host array, so the cache with our software effectively follows the virtual machine wherever it goes," he said. "The DRAM cache gets repopulated on the host when the virtual machine moves. But the application never runs slower than the SSD performance."

NEXT: Pairing Intel CAS 2.0 Software With Intel SSDs

To help provide that consistent performance, Intel is now pairing its Intel CAS 2.0 software with two of its enterprise SSDs.

The first, the Intel DC S3700 series, works with Intel CAS 2.0 to ensure a maximum 10-percent variability between the minimum I/Os per second (IOPS) and average IOPS delivered for a consistent response time.

The software is now also being paired with Intel's 910 series server-side caching technology for a high-speed server cache solution, Flint said.

The combination SSD and software offerings are available now through Intel's distribution channel, while the Linux version of the Intel CAS 2.0 software is slated to ship later this month.

The Intel CAS 2.0 software was originally released late last year following Intel's August 2012 acquisition of Nevex Virtual Technologies.