… and Sandforce is gobbled up by LSI …

From the register
This is interesting, as LSI appears to be girding for the next gen in storage. Flash (the PCIe variant) and SSD (the disk channel variant) are on the rise, and things that add value in that chain will be quite interesting acquisitions.
We work closely with Virident, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they, or Texas Memory Systems were acquired by a larger entity.
This isn’t consolidation in the classical sense, this is girding for future battle. There is not an over capacity in this market, there is something more akin to a war over the IP and capability foot prints.
This is a good acquisition for LSI, and I hope that Sandforce continues to supply the SSD world with controllers. So far, despite my few issues with their compression, they seem to have one of the best controllers on the market.
This said, I think this is going to alter the game for OCZ. They use Sandforce in the Vertex III and Deneva lines. And I think in the R4. They purchased Indilinx (another controller vendor) last year. Not sure if this is going to mean that OCZ will roll completely over to Indilinx, but I’d think that this is now open to serious consideration.
If they do that, based upon past experience with Indilinx (look up our Corsair debacle from a year or more ago), yeah, that might alter the landscape a bit on who has better/faster products at the lower end.
But the other aspect of interest in this is that LSI could, easily, integrate a Sandforce controller and flash onto its RAID and HBA cards, and provide something akin to a flash cache storage, at a very low price.

Read more… and Sandforce is gobbled up by LSI …

#SC11 countdown and some administrivia

So we are on the long march to #SC11 (we are booth 4101, please do stop by!). Figuring out the final bits of the booth content. Working on presentations. Hoping we will have enough disks for the demos I am working on putting together.
Then the fun stuff.
The mugs: Doug and I had fun with these. Aren’t giving them out to everyone … you have to really cozy up to us for one … and we will have a Keurig coffee/tea maker there so we can fill em.
The presentation machines: Yeah, Doug likes his new Mac Air. I like how light it is. Wish I could bump the ram to 16 GB (hey, I run Google Chrome and Mozilla thunderbird … the new standards in memory hog-ware). Looked at the cost of renting the screens we wanted. So for the same price as purchasing them, we can rent them. Yeah. Exactly the same price. Seriously, WTF? We ain’t made of money (and I am spending entirely too much on this already … don’t ask me about the power side of things …)
The booth furniture: Yeah, again a case of rent for the same price as buying or buying and shipping. We needed some stuff in the office anyway, so we’ll set it up here, ship it, and return it. We are already shipping the siCache device (to be announced and renamed … Logo is awesome, Doug positively rocks!).

Read more#SC11 countdown and some administrivia

Is this another "Perl indistinguishable from line noise" argument? Don't know …

… but I do know that the analysis has some … er … flaws. Yeah. Flaws.
I’ll ignore their sample size issue for the moment (though it does go to the size of their error bars … I hope they appreciate the inverse functional relationship between these two).
Take two sets of data with error bars. Put them down on the same graph. The data from each set overlaps within the error bars of the other set.
Are these distinguishable?
No. They aren’t.
Can you draw any meaningful distinction between these data points?
No, you cannot.
Yet, somehow, this is what they did.
Yeah, I know. Lies, damn lies, and statistics. I’ve seen (and corrected/critiqued) my fair share of the same.
They invent a programming language called Randomo. In it, they literally use random characters. They then have novices program in 3 languages, their Quorum, Perl and this Randomo. At the end of the process, the results are scored, analyzed, etc. Charts generated. Error bars drawn.

Read moreIs this another "Perl indistinguishable from line noise" argument? Don't know …

A new spin on 'hard cases make for bad laws' … but with benchmark codes

We run (as you might imagine) lots of benchmarks. We do lots of system tuning. We start with null hypotheses and work from there. Sometimes you can call that the baseline expected measurements. Your call on what you want to call it. But a measurement implicitly implies a comparison to a known quantity.
In the case of the baseline or null hypothesis, you measure what you should believe to be a reasonable configuration, the way it would be used. You shouldn’t measure a configuration that is unreasonable, or try to measure in an unreasonable manner. Keep it simple. Repeat it. Get an average. See a distribution. Be happy.
Then you make your changes, and measure. So the fundamental “belief” that you need to have is that your tools will give a generally reasonable result when testing. This is a testable “belief” and yeah, you should test it.
Because not all tools are the same. Some of them, like fio, are simply awesome. Others (I will not mention names) are crap, and very likely vendor specific.
We’ve been being beat up over the results from a particular tool. This tool originates at a competitor, comes in binary only form, and generates IO. Does it do it in a reasonable manner? I’ve looked at what it does … and I’ve been skeptical for a long time. So after dealing with another set of “measurements” today, I finally said “screw it” I’m gonna see if this thing can be trusted.

Read moreA new spin on 'hard cases make for bad laws' … but with benchmark codes

Design and driver issues exposed under very high loads

Most folks, when they build Fibre Channel systems, aren’t assuming a very high IOP rate. No, really. Each channel of an FC8 connection is about 1GB/s, which with 4k operations (neglecting overheads and other things), would give you about 256k IOPs.
To date, most of these units have been connected to spinning disks, which, individually might max out at 300 IOPs. So from their design perspective, you could put about 874 disks per connection, assuming a perfect configuration, to max out the data channel.
Well, FC lets you connect something like 127 devices per channel, so, obviously, this is massive over-engineering … right?
And moreover, if you decided to save money somehow, and instead of putting more silicon on a card, you simply “oversubscribed” one controller chip with 3 of these 127 drive channels … We are talking only about 38k IOPs per channel, max … right?
Well … no.
Very high IOP and very high bandwidth expose all manner of interesting design … er … features.
Currently dealing with one where it looks like an HBA with 2x FC controller chips has 1 port on one chip, and 3 ports on another.
Now connect this to a speed demon like our soon to be announced siCache unit. In the box in question, we are doing 650k+ IOPs. We expected that a quad port FC card would be well designed with a good driver, and that we’d be able to use … well … some significant fraction of the IOPs. The siCache is an FC target in this case, though it also has 10GbE and IB connections.
If you visit us at SC11 in booth 4101, you will see one of the variants on this unit.

Read moreDesign and driver issues exposed under very high loads

In the run-up to SC11, yeah … I'm busy …

Wow … After getting back from the UK and Sweden, a whole slew of orders came in from several existing and new customers. And booth prep (remember, we are in 4101, stop by and say hello!). And logistics … and support … and box tuning (in house, at customer sites, …) and quoting, and performance monitoring/analysis for several customers (including one where strace seems to have missed child IO processes …). And working with our lawyer for our friends and family round. And signing up new partners/resellers.
Like you wouldn’t believe.
Postings going to be a bit light until I can get some of this workload done. Doug and Mark are running at capacity, and Sofia is getting burdened as well. Gonna have to hire more soon I think.
As for the company, I did see something where Penguin indicated it was in record territory. Congrats to them. We’ve been in record territory since July, and its getting better by the week. We’ve already blown well past my projection for the year, and are firmly into Terra incognita … hitting on all cylinders, all JATO units, after burners … pick your favorite euphemism.
… which … is why I am insanely busy. Still taking time for the family, Karate, and for tournaments. Won’t give these up. But my time is a zero sum game. Getting far more efficient where I can, and where it matters.

Read moreIn the run-up to SC11, yeah … I'm busy …