Exar expands data reduction options

By Dave Simpson

– Exar is set to release two new PCIe-based solutions for data reduction, both of which are targeted primarily at OEMs and systems/storage integrators.

Announced today, the DX 1700 combines data compression, deduplication and encryption on a PCI Express card. The DX 1700 differs from the predecessor DR 1600 card in that it includes a new ASIC that provides better performance for small block sizes, and it supports network packets in addition to block-level data. As such, Exar is positioning the DX 1700 for unified (i.e., storage and networking) environments. (The DR 1600 only supports block data.)

The DX 1700 data reduction cards are available in four models, with one or four PCIe interfaces, and can be used in primary storage environments or in secondary storage devices such as virtual tape libraries (VTLs). The cards typically consume only 3.3 watts of power.

In the primary storage reduction arena, Exar competes to varying degrees with data deduplication and/or compression vendors such as EMC, GreenBytes, NetApp, Ocarina Networks, Permabit and Storwize.

According to Bob Farkaly, director of storage systems product marketing, Exar's competitive differentiators are that its cards are based on specialized ASICs, as opposed to general-purpose processors, and they combine data compression, deduplication and encryption technologies.

"Using specialized ASICs to do data reduction reduces latency and improves performance," says Farkaly, "and the other vendors don't have a combination of compression, deduplication and encryption."

Exar claims throughput performance ranging from 100MBps to 800MBps.

The DX 1700 cards ship to OEMs with a software development kit (SDK), Exar's APIs and Intel's QuickAssist APIs. Exar is delivering samples of the DX 1700 to OEMs today, with general availability scheduled for late July.

Tomorrow, Exar is expected to introduce a new model in its BitWackr line of PCIe-based data reduction cards. The BitWackr C is a compression-only version of the cards that has data deduplication functionality disabled. Encryption is optional.

BitWackr C cards are aimed primarily at disk-based backup servers and appliances, and are compatible with Windows Server 2008 and Linux.

The cards typically provide 2:1 compression ratios and can be used with traditional (non-deduplication) backup software from vendors such as BakBone, CA, CommVault and Symantec. In those environments, Exar's internal tests showed a backup performance increase of 52% on average.

BitWackr C Series cards can also be used with backup software that includes data deduplication, such as Symantec's Backup Exec 2010, CommVault's Simpana 8, CA's ARCserve 12.5 and BakBone's NetVault 8.5. In those environments the cards increase data reduction by 2X. In other words, if the deduplicating software produces, say, a 5:1 reduction ratio the BitWackr C cards will increase capacity optimization to 10:1.

Related articles:
Exar to acquire Neterion
Storwize upgrades compression appliances
Permabit deduplicates primary storage
Ocarina: 4 dedupe predictions, and an OEM strategy (blog post)


This article was originally published on June 29, 2010