LSI is looking to expand its flash-based application acceleration technology to enterprises of all sizes with its new Nytro product slate. Anchored by three offerings, LSI is duking it out in a PCIe flash adapter card market that is growing increasingly crowded.

PCIe flash cards employ low-power, high-performance flash storage chips to improve application performance. Since they slot directly into a server, data resides closer to a server’s processors, vastly cutting the time it would otherwise take the information to course through disk-based storage networks.

Businesses are turning to this technology to plow through storage-intensive workloads like transaction processing. It’s a field that was pioneered by Fusion-io and more recently visited by EMC with its VFCache server add-on card. Incidentally, LSI is a supplier for EMC’s VFCache.

LSI’s plans for its Nytro line involve more than catering to the high-end of the flash-based application acceleration market, however. The company wants to speed up all sorts of workloads for all types of enterprises, by leveraging the company’s broad OS compatibility, widespread driver support and years of paving OEM inroads.

According to LSI, it all adds up to automated caching with seamless integration and low or no configuration. And it’s the key to getting IT shops — of all sizes — on board with the company’s performance-improving tech.

To get the ball rolling, LSI is making its Nytro Predictor software tool available for organizations to determine which Nytro products and configurations can help IT managers accelerate application “hot spots.”

Speeding the Enterprise with WarpDrive

LSI’s Nytro product strategy hinges, in part, on the company’s WarpDrive cards, which employ flash storage, LSI’s SAS integrated controller and technology derived from the company’s acquisition of SandForce, a maker of flash controllers. Now in its second generation, the PCIe-based application acceleration card is available in capacities ranging from 200 GB to 3.2 TB.

Starting at $6,600, WarpDrive is available in both MLC and SLC flavors. It can deliver up to 8k random IOPs and help data center operators achieve up to a 30x improvement in database transaction performance, according to the company.

Next is a software and hardware combo called the Nytro XD Application Acceleration Storage Solution. It integrates WarpDrive cards with Nytro XD intelligent caching software to improve I/O in storage area networks (SAN) and direct-attached storage (DAS) implementations. Nytro XD pricing starts at $9,400.

Driving Flash Affordability with MegaRAID

Lastly, there’s the Nytro MegaRAID Application Acceleration Card, which combines the company’s MegaRAID controllers with on-board flash and caching software. With a base price of $1,799, LSI is positioning Nytro MegaRAID as a drop-in, performance-enhancing solution for serial-attached SCSI (SAS) DAS environments.

Nytro MegaRAID can help Microsoft SQL achieve a 10x increase in transactions per second, according to the company. Microsoft’s director or SQL Server Product Management, Claude Lorenson, is bullish on what LSI’s hardware means for the future of Microsoft server environments.

“Flash storage technologies, such as the LSI Nytro portfolio of application acceleration products, can be used to accelerate key business applications such as SQL Server 2012,” said Lorenson in a company statement. He also added, “The importance of these technologies will continue to grow with the enhancements that Microsoft will deliver with Windows Server ‘8.’”

LSI Nytro is currently sampling with OEMs. General availability is scheduled for the second quarter.

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