SanDisk Launches Its Own PCIe Accelerator for Servers

PCIe (peripheral component interconnect express) accelerator cards boost the performance of workstations and servers running high-transaction applications in data centers, server farms and cloud computing environments.

Flash memory storage maker SanDisk, known historically for its little blue storage cards in cameras and cell phones, continues to scale out into the business-to-business space.

On June 4 the company introduced a new PCIe (peripheral component interconnect express) accelerator card designed to boost the performance of workstations and servers running high-transaction applications in data centers, server farms and cloud computing environments.

SanDisk, which made the announcement at the Computex conference in Taipei, Taiwan, is now in direct competition with companies such as Fusion-io, Micron, Intel, Fujitsu, Toshiba, and others.

SanDisk's Lightning PCI Express (PCIe) Solid State Accelerator, which came from its Pliant acquisition of a year ago, can be added to workstations and servers to provide faster and more predictable performance for enterprise applications, said SanDisk's Greg Goelz, who serves as vice president and general manager of Enterprise Storage Solutions. The cards provide rapid access to the most frequently used data and applications to more effectively manage heavy workloads, Goelz said.

Why PCIe Is a Hot Trend

The PCIe form factor is a hot trend because it substantially speeds up data storage I/O. Intel introduced PCIe in 2004 as a computer expansion-card standard based on point-to-point serial links rather than a shared parallel bus architecture. It is designed to replace the older PCI, PCI-X and AGP standards.

PCIe-based flash storage has the ability to bypass traditional storage overhead by reducing latencies, increasing throughput and enabling efficient processing of massive quantities of data.

Because the 2.5-inch form factor allows PCIe SSDs to be integrated into the front end of the server (like traditional data storage drives), users can easily service the drive or scale performance without having to power down the server. This is an important consideration for data center managers, especially those responsible for hundreds or thousands of servers.

The new SanDisk PCIe devices fit a number of use cases ranging from financial institutions analyzing and processing massive amounts of information around the clock to social media and Website providers whose customers demand a nearly instant response.

Lightning PCIe SSAs feature an advanced controller using a parallel processing architecture to manage essential data protection and input/output functions, Goelz said. This results in balanced performance as data is accessed, with little impact on central processor (CPU) loading and no need for additional DRAM memory, Goelz said.

Lower Power Usage

The SanDisk PCIe SSAs also feature low power requirements and include an industry-standard driver that requires no additional software or system modification.

Based on the next-generation PCIe 2.0 interface, Lightning PCIe SSAs can be installed into any four lane (x4) or greater PCIe slot. Up to five cards may be installed into a single system to provide up to 2TB of capacity.

SanDisk Lightning PCIe Enterprise SSAs are available in 200GB (LP 206M) and 400GB (LP406M) capacities for $1,350 and $2,350, respectively, at authorized retailers in North America, including Avnet, CDW, and

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...