Wozniak Joins Storage Startup

Data StorageStorage

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has signed up as chief scientist at Fusion-io, a Salt Lake City-basedcompany that makes compact NAND flash storage arrays.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder and former chief technologist of Apple Computer, is coming out of semi-retirement and joining Fusion-io, a Salt Lake City-based storage startup that makes compact NAND flash storage arrays, as its chief scientist.

Wozniak, 59, been serving as a Fusion-io board member for the last year and decided he wanted to get more involved with what the company is doing. His schedule starts immediately, a company spokesman told eWEEK.

Fusion-io ioDrive is the first direct-attached, solid-state server storage array that uses PCI-Express (PCIe) connectivity. The ioDrive is small – barely larger than a typical handheld device – and uses advanced NAND flash chip clustering to perform the same functions as a spinning desk storage array, only with much faster read/write performance and with much less power draw.

The company claims ioDrive is capable of 120,000 random read/write IOPS — about 100 times faster than a typical SATA (serial ATA) drive.

PCIe (peripheral component interconnect express) was introduced by Intel in 2004. It is a computer expansion card standard based on point-to-point serial links rather than a shared parallel bus architecture, and is designed to replace the older PCI, PCI-X, and AGP standards.

Many industry observers believe SSD-powered drives are the wave of the future in storage arrays and in laptops. eWEEK has covered this extensively in the last several years.

Wozniak will act as a key technical advisor to the Fusion-io research and development group. Naturally, the company also will trade heavily on his name and reputation in helping the company move into major global accounts.

“Steve Wozniak has been among the most elite innovators of his age and we are honoured by his enthusiasm for our technology and our company,” Don Basile, CEO of Fusion-io, said in a press statement.

“Steve’s inventions and insights have inspired generations of IT professionals and we look forward to the influence he will have on the future direction of Fusion-io as we continue to transform the enterprise.”

Wozniak will be trading in a life that’s been basically under the radar for over a generation for one that will get much more media attention.

“I have a pretty quiet life, and I like to watch technology evolve,” Wozniak told Ashlee Vance of The New York Times. “In this case, I like the people and the product, and said I would like some greater involvement.”

Wozniak told eWEEK at a recent Computer History Museum event that he’s been enjoying his relative anonymity in the San Jose suburb of Los Gatos since his high-profile days getting Apple up and running 30 years ago.

“It’s really been nice to own my own schedule for all these years,” he said. “When people recognise me, I always try to give them a few minutes of time and answer their questions or whatever. I enjoy talking to people about computers and their lives and stuff.”

Wozniak also said he had been “quietly” teaching fifth-graders science at a local school in Los Gatos for eight years.

“I enjoy working with children — they’re so eager to learn, and when they are really interested in something, they learn very quickly,” he said.

The City of San Jose immortalised him 10 years ago by designating a downtown street parallel to State Route 87 “Woz Way.” Appropriately, Woz Way is the street where the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology is located.

Wozniak has been keeping up to date on techno-advances.

“Solid-state is where everything is going eventually,” he said. “There’s been huge advances in SSDs in just the last few years, and that looks like the future to me, for sure.”

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