One basic question that is often asked is – should I use PCIe-based Flash Card or Flash/SSD array? Flash/SSD arrays are being used within enterprise and cloud settings but a considerable number of companies are also using PCIe-based flash cards inside their servers to run databases and applications. The dominant PCIe vendor is clearly Fusion IO. Hands down. You begin to see why when you see how much time and energy they have put into the software side of their product as well as hardware. They have targeted some use-cases which make perfect sense for using PCIe flash cards within a cloud – for example Facebook is running MySQL on servers with PCIe flash cards. Apple also is using PCIE cards in conjunction with database in iCloud. Specifically around the MySQL ecosystem - Fusion IO is has been working with SkySQL to get atomic writes in MariaDB (a MySQL fork) and into the Percona Server. This optimization on MariaDB has yielded over 50% improvement in write performance. It is this type of value that differentiates vendors and is missing from some of the other PCIe vendors. Another excellent use-case is around NoSQL databases like Aerospike. It is such an excellent use case that they have created a benchmark and they recommend SSDs or other flash devices.
One very interesting read is the Fusion IO whitepaper describing Reference Architecture for Oracle RAC with ION Data Accelerator and Dell r720 Servers. It shows a resilient architecture for running Oracle RAC. The aim of this architecture is to reduce hardware costs and per-core Oracle licensing by 50% compared to an Exadata X3-2 Half Rack. At the same time, there is a reduction of power consumption and delivering high IOPS for this architecture. When compared to an Oracle Exadata X3-2 the Fusion IO/Dell architecture consumes only a quarter rack (compared to half), 32 instead of 64 cores, requires only two database servers (compared to 4), requires only two storage servers compared to seven and provides 800,000 Read Only IOPS (compared to Exadata’s 750,000 IOPS) and provides a 50% cost reduction in licenses. Pretty worthwhile reading is Fusion IO’s whitepaper on how they do this :