Gohan is back with yet another SudoFail post.
Today I am going to be talking about the Fusion-io Drive PCIe SSD cards.
Specifically the Generation 2 cards since I recently acquired two of these bad boys.
(2.4TB) 2410GB MLC Gen2 PCIe Solid State Drive IO Accelerator
The specs on these PCIe SSD “Accelerator” cards are pretty insane, even by today’s standards of NVMe. (not withstanding shitty QLC drives )
Anywho, the 2410GB specs per HP are below.
MLC with a write endurance of 34 PetaBytes Written. (on the 2410GB model)
These are crazy strong and ultra useful for many diverse workloads such as Virtual Machines / Databases / containers / etc.
Should I buy, buy, buy?
Before we get into that.
There are some important things that everyone needs to know before buying ANY Fusion-IO product.
- Fusion-IO was aquired by SanDisk aka Western Digital in 2014
- These cards are OFFICIALLY End-Of-Life (EOL)
- No Support due to EOL status – Extended Paid Enterprise support may or may not be a thing…
- DRIVERS ARE PROPRIETARY
Now, you may or may not understand how proprietary drivers work. Since you are used to PnP (Plug-In-Play) hardware
Normally you will install an Operating System and that OS will automatically match and download the appropriate drivers for your hardware. (Motherboard Chipsets, Sata controllers, Network Cards, USB Hubs (onboard), etc, etc, etc)
Unfortunately with the FusionIO Drive PCIe cards… The drivers will not “automatically” install themselves. This is due to the proprietary driver situation. You will need to manually download and install these drivers from SanDisks Website.
Sounds pretty easy right?
Well… There are a few caveats with that ultra easy solution…
Due to EOL status, there are no more driver/software/firmware updates available for this hardware.
Per “bplein” from the MacRumors forums.
This post was from 2017. So these cards have not held up well in todays flash storage market, especially after being acquired by Sandisk aka WD.
If you are running ESXI 6.0 / 6.5 / (maybeeeee 7??) you will most likely be able to utilize these cards for VM storage.
If you are running Windows Server 2008 (God… I hope not), Server 2012 (hopefully R2), and perhaps 2016 or newer, then you should be able to install the Windows drivers pretty easily.
This means you can use it for Hyper-V, and any strenuous windows based workloads.
(Will it survive future OS updates… no one knows, so it would be sketchy to run critical data that isnt already backed up constantly)
Running on windows is semi beneficial in a multitude of ways. You can setup ISCSI, NFS, SMBv3 shares, and more with this drive. You could use it as an ultra fast network attached scratch disk (ideally 10Gb or better network)
If windows isnt your thing, you can always use the much older versions of Linux that the proprietary drivers do fully support. This is a 2-way street though, since modern linux kernels are optimized for current/future gen hardware.
“I have heard/read that I can compile my own driver?”
Yes… It is said by various people on the interwebs that you can take the most recent driver source code from Sandisk (ver 3.2.x) and recompile it on any linux version you want.
However, this is pretty difficult from what I have found, and there is no guarantee that it will perform as expected and with any kind of stability…
One Last Thing
The FusionIO Drive 2 DUO card is 2x 1.2TB slapped onto a single PCIe card. You can run them as seperate 1.2TB drives or a single 2.4TB drive.
You WILL need sometype of cooling if running these cards in a non enterprise server.
(Passive air cooling will most likely not be enough)
From further research, I have also found that these cards require some watts to perform.
To get maximum performance, you will need to enable high power mode… otherwise you will need a special external power connector (which usually ships with a new drive, but is hard to find on the 2nd hand market)
It is probably recommended to get the external power connector if you are running multiple PCIe cards in a single system.
Now, all things considered here. We have 2x ways to use this PCIe card in 2020 with minimal setup required.
It has been proven that you can easily use this card with ESXI 6.7U3 (it does NOT work in ESXI 7.0) – It IS a bit tedious to get it fully setup, due to manually installing ESXI .VIB files, but other than that, its an excellent device to run VMs on.
You can use this PCIe card in Windows 10 / Windows Server 2016 or greater. (The drivers are easy to install, and its easy to setup)
These are excellent if you get them cheap, and have one of the 2x scenarios above.
Thanks for reading