LSI's Latest Nytro MegaRAID Card Doubles Up on Flash

By Pedro Hernandez

LSI today announced a major new addition to its portfolio of PCIe flash application acceleration add-on cards at the World Hosting Days conference in Germany.

Dubbed Nytro MegaRAID 8140-8e8i, the new hardware provides double the storage and a 4X increase in SAS/SATA connections compared to its predecessors. With the new card, organizations can pack their servers with up to 1.6 TB of usable eMLC flash storage across four flash modules and 16 SAS/SATA connections (per card).

The Nytro MegaRAID 8140 card sports a half-length, full-height form factor, room enough for the company to pack additional flash capacity storage and more SAS ports onto the cards. According to Jason Pederson, senior product manager of LSI's Nytro Solutions unit, the new card enables Web hosting companies to better achieve the optimal ratio between flash and traditional data storage (roughly 15:85) as their data requirements grow.

The unveiling arrives just as the company announced a big milestone. Since the launch of its Nytro line of flash accelerator cards two years ago, LSI has shipped 100,000 units worldwide. Tom Swinford, senior vice president and general manager of LSI's Datacenter Solutions Group, said in a statement that the feat "underscores the rapid customer acceptance of the LSI Nytro portfolio and its ability to uniquely address customer challenges across a wide range of datacenter workloads."

LSI kicked off the Nytro product line in April 2012. Nytro encompasses the company's enterprise-grade WarpDrive offering, which combines flash storage, LSI's SAS controller tech and innovations from the company's acquisition of SandForce, and its affordable Nytro MegaRAID line. Today, in addition to the increased capacity and storage connectivity options, the company announced another feature that gives customers more flexibility in implementing the product.

Pederson told InfoStor that his company has "also expanded the capabilities of how people can use the flash capacity." Venturing beyond accelerating application and databases, LSI has cooked up new firmware that allows customers to use their MegaRAID cards "as data storage as well" by leveraging a feature the company calls "Flexible Flash." The firmware will be made available to existing MegaRAID customers as well, he said.

"Now you could put your boot volume there," boasted Pederson. The new functionality, called Nytro Boot, allows organizations to "reclaim those drive bays for [their] application servers," he added. Another use case is to place other data, like log files, that could benefit from the speed boost provided by flash.

Flexible Flash can be used to apply RAID (levels 0, 1 and 5) to a set capacity on the product's four flash modules. The product, as its name suggests, can apply RAID to attached hard disk drive (HDD) capacity.

To help IT administrators keep an eye on their flash-enhanced environments, the company is rolling out an Advanced Cache Statistics feature. The diagnostics suite provides caching statistics, including I/Os completed from cache, amount of hot data written to flash and total I/O counts.

LSI Nytro MegaRAID 8140 starts shipping during the second quarter of 2014 with a price tag of $9,995.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on April 01, 2014