MySpace dumps server hard disks for flash drives

Social networking site announced today that it has switched from using hard disk drives in its servers to using PCI Express (PCIe) cards loaded with solid state chips as primary storage for their data centre operations.

The PCIe cards, from Fusion-io Inc., have allowed MySpace to replace multiple server farms made up of 2U (3.5-in high) servers that had used 10 to 12 15,000 RPM Fibre Channel drives each with 1U (1.75-in high) servers using a single ioDrive .

“In the last 20 years, disk storage hasn’t kept pace with other innovations in IT, and right now we’re on the cusp of a dramatic change with flash technologies,” said Richard Buckingham, vice president of technical operations for MySpace, in a statement.

MySpace said the solid state storage uses less than 1 per cent of the power and cooling costs that their previous hard drive-based server infrastructure had and that they were able to remove all of their server racks because the ioDrives are embedded directly into even its smallest servers.

“We looked at a number of solid state solutions, using many different kinds of RAID configurations, but we felt that Fusion-io’s solution was exactly what we needed to accomplish our goals,” Buckingham stated.

MySpace’s new servers also have replaced its high-performance hosts that held data in large RAM cache modules, a costly method MySpace had been using in order to achieve the necessary throughput to serve its relational databases. MySpace said its new servers using the NAND flash memory modules give it the same performance as its older RAM servers.

Salt Lake City-based Fusion-io claims the ioDrive Duo offers users unprecedented single server performance levels with 1.5GB/sec. throughput and almost 200,000 IOPS. The system can reach such performance levels because four ioDrive Duos in a single server can scale linearly, which provides up to 6GB/sec. of read bandwidth and more than 500,000 read IOPS.

The cards come in 160GB, 320GB and 640GB capacities. A 1.28TB card is expected in the second half of this year.

“Social networking sites and other Web 2.0 applications are very database dependent. Our 320GB ioDrive can fill a 10Gbit/sec. Ethernet pipe,” David Flynn, CTO of Fusion-io, said in an interview.

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