Vendor Briefing – Formulus Black

New servers in your data center can have a lot of RAM DIMMs in them, or some RAM and some Persistent MEMory (PMEM) such as Optane DIMMs. Either way, there is a lot of fast capacity that might help solve application performance issues that are caused by slow storage. Formulus Black would like to help you by turning some DIMMs into a block device for your application. Their FORSA software takes either RAM or PMEM and makes it into a local file system with latency and throughput that are better than NVME SSDs. Your application can run directly on the Linux host, where FORSA is installed. The other option is your application inside VMs under the KVM hypervisor on that host. The VM option allows applications that require Windows to be accelerated with DIMM based storage. There are other drivers that take Optane DIMMs and make them a disk device, and other RAM disk drivers around. FORSA has some unique features around management and data services. One feature is the ability to rapidly clone a volume (usually RAM-based) to an SSD to provide data protection. Another is replicating a volume from one FORSA node to another for high availability. There is also a GUI for friendlier management and deduplication to increase the effective capacity of the high-speed volume.

I expect we will see more use of DIMM based storage when there are cost-effective options for PMEM. Increasing application (particularly database) performance is important, but finding the expertise to fix and optimize applications is expensive. Moving from the fastest NVMe SSD, you can get to DIMM attached storage can offer an order of magnitude better application performance for a relatively small increase in hardware cost. Formulus Black says that they are targeting medium-sized companies and Wall Street. The presentation I saw had some significant improvements in IOPS and 99th percentile latency, which translates into fewer storage bottlenecks. If you are struggling to get enough storage performance with local NVMe SSDs, give them a look.

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About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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