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IBM project breaks performance records


IBM's 'Project Quicksilver' is setting new records for data-transfer speeds on solid-state technology, with its tests showing a disk-storage solution hitting 1-million input/outputs per second (IOPS).

The research project, under way at IBM's Hursley Lab in Hampshire and the Almaden Research Center in California, uses flash solid-state drives (SSDs) coupled with scalable storage virtualisation technology.
IBM claims to have achieved a sustained rate of over a million IOPS with a response time of under one millisecond (ms). The company believes this gives Quicksilver an improvement in performance of 250 percent, with "less than a fifth the response time" of existing disk-based storage. For good measure, IBM says, it takes up one-fifth of the space of equivalent conventional drives and uses "only 55% of the power and cooling".
Performance improvements of this magnitude can have profound implications for business, allowing two- to three-times the work to complete in a given timeframe for classic workloads, enabling tremendous efficiency for time sensitive applications like reservations systems, and financial program trading systems, and creating opportunity for entirely new insights in information warehouses and analytic solutions.
IBM is driving a comprehensive approach to leverage solid state storage, which is an emerging enterprise technology that has no moving parts, thus eliminating many of the access delays associated with electro-mechanical disks.
Paul de Reuck, platform manager for IBM system storage, Central & Southern Africa, says that IBM "is integrating this technology with systems and applications so that companies can achieve real business value from solid-state disk". He describes Quicksilver as "a significant step forward in this comprehensive systems strategy".
The strategy is not about replacing today's hard-disk drive, but that the main emphasis is to show IBM's technical superiority over the competition. It is about "having a complete, end-to-end systems approach–and that's not something EMC, HP or Sun can match," he says.