Fusion-io Shares Secrets Of Flash-Aware Applications With Open Compute And MariaDB

The enterprise Flash pioneer makes its first official contribution to open source

Enterprise Flash memory supplier Fusion-io has released three software technologies to help applications become “flash-aware” in its first formal contribution to open source.

The company has offered its Non-Volatile Memory Key-Value (NVMKV) interface to the Open Compute project, and published the first ever flash-aware Linux virtual memory Demand Paging extension to GitHub.

Meanwhile, its Atomic Writes API has been integrated in open source MySQL databases MariaDB and Percona. According to Fusion-io, Atomic Writes provides performance throughput increases up to 50 percent, as well as a 4x reduction in latency spikes. It also increases the overall lifetime of Flash memory.

Essentially, all three contributions help open source applications make better use of NAND memory and remove “cruft” – software and operations which are necessary when dealing with traditional disk storage, but pointless when using Flash.

“These open source contributions help recognise the fact that Flash is a staple element in big data centres of tomorrow,” Brent Compton, senior director of Product Management at Fusion-io, told TechWeekEurope.

Redesigned with Flash in mind

NVMKV is a native key-value interface library to flash memory. It eliminates the need to continually convert native key-value I/O to block I/O used in disk storage, significantly reducing complexity. “It’s a more sophisticated interface to Flash. A whole library that will be open sourced through the Open Compute project,” said Compton.

Fusion-ioSimilarly, Demand Paging in Linux is an outdated virtual memory management mechanism that is simply too slow when used with traditional disk drives. However, Demand Paging in flash-aware applications can accelerate development by streamlining the software stack. Compton says Fusion-io has released updates to the Linux virtual memory subsystem, hoping it will encourage innovation.

“It’s not a complete set of changes that will be rolled out in upstream kernels next month. But we believe that the changes will end up in upstream kernels eventually. We were the frontrunner in bringing Flash to the data centre. And when you are the frontrunner, you have the responsibility to help the entire industry move towards greater value of this new media.”

Fusion-io also announced that the latest versions of MariaDB and Percona Server, two popular MySQL distributions, now include the option for flash-aware operation. They are the first mainstream enterprise applications to ship with Atomic Writes – replacing the need to use a ‘double write buffer’, the operation required when using traditional disk drives, but serving no purpose with Flash.

Enabling a processor to simultaneously write multiple independent storage sectors as a single storage transaction not just doubles the throughput and cuts down on latency, but also extends the life of Flash memory up to two times, according to Fusion-io. “When was the last time you could change a few hundred lines of code and get these benefits?” asks Compton.

Last month, Red Hat confirmed it will switch from MySQL to MariaDB in the upcoming release of its Enterprise Linux 7. Fedora, the community distribution of Red Hat’s OS, had switched to MariaDB earlier this year, at the same time as openSUSE.

”Increasingly our customers expect MariaDB products to not just compete with, but to exceed what they can get from rival database technologies,” commented Michael “Monty” Widenius, the founder of MySQL and creator of MariaDB. “The highly innovative solutions we have worked on with Fusion-io are a great example of how both companies are bringing the best thinking to the best database in the world.”

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