PCIe Virtualisation Boosted As Micron Aquires Virtensys

Micron’s aquisition of Virtensys enables data centres to share local storage across multiple servers with more efficient virtualisation of NAND flash storage.

Solid-state drive maker Micron Technology announced 20 January that it will acquire the assets of privately held Virtensys, a provider of PCIe-sharing virtualization software based in Manchester and Beaverton, Oregon.

Terms of the proposed agreement were not released by Idaho-based Micron, which has been on the rebound since struggling through some tough financial times several years ago.

PCIe gains momentum

The deal is evident of the increasing momentum in the PCIe card sector. PCIe card units, which contain a high amount of NAND flash, replace spinning disk drives in specific use cases to bring major performance increases into systems that process a high number of transactions per minute or per second.

PCIe was identified as a major storage trend last August. Analyst Jim Handy of Objective Analysis said his firm is forecasting that the NAND flash-powered PCIe interface will become dominant in the enterprise solid-state disk market in 2012, with unit shipments greater than the combined shipments of its SAS and Fibre Channel counterparts.

PCIe (peripheral component interconnect express) was created by Intel and launched 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.

PCIe-based flash storage has the ability to bypass traditional storage overhead by reducing latencies, increasing throughput and enabling more efficient processing of massive quantities of data. For that reason, it is considered a prime tool for big data-type analytics workloads, which have been steadily increasing in numbers.

Most of the major storage companies that deal in NAND flash are now providing a PCIe product of some kind, including EMC, Fusion i-o, STEC, Samsung, OCZ, Texas Memory, Unex, and others.

“Virtensys’ PCIe-sharing technology has helped change the way data center operators manage and deploy their virtualized I/O resources, and Micron’s enterprise PCIe drive delivers market-leading speed, reliability and power efficiency,” said Edward Doller, Micron vice president and Chief Memory Systems Architect.

“This agreement would enable a combination of enterprise technology solutions that have the opportunity to virtualize SSD storage on the path to a more flexible and dynamic data center.”

Virtensys’ VIO-4000 Series PCIe Sharing appliances are able to virtualize network and storage connectivity to as many as 16 servers. One appliance can provide up to 32 Gb/ps of Fibre Channel bandwidth, 80Gbps of Ethernet bandwidth, and/or up to 16TB of local storage connectivity for those 16 boxes.