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Fusion-io works on third generation of its ioDrive technology

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June 17, 2013

Recently, flash chip leader Fusion-io has been talking to financial analysts about terminating its wasteful research projects and building OEM momentum for its cost-reduced ioScale card. And analysts seemed to like that and paid close attention to what the company was saying.

The underlying message was that manufacturing costs are about to go down and revenues will climb-- something any financial analyst likes to hear from a company.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers noted that Fusion-io is working on a third generation of its ioDrive technology, ioDrive 3, and could be introducing 20nm multi-layer cell (MLC) flash card technology later this year.

This would allow more capacity on its cards than its current technology, which it describes as 2X, meaning a NAND cell size between 29 and 20 nanometres (it is understood to be around 25nm).

Fusion's chief financial officer Dennis Woolf said the company would move to its second generation 1Y technology in Q3 this year and that its technology and engineers are working to ensure Fusion-io products can use any type of NAND available.

The new technology will be succeeded by 1Z technology in late 2014. We understand that the next-gen 1Y technology will be smaller than 1X, although the actual boundary is fluid. We are assuming that 1X is somewhere between 15 to 19nm and the next-gen 1Y model is 10 to 14nm, although the cross-over point from 1X to 1Y could be 17nm or 16nm or some other number.

Fusion-io says it works with multiple NAND suppliers so it could theoretically end up with two different 1Y technologies-- a 17nm one and a 15nm one for example.

Then, Wall Street analyst Jason Ader noted Woolf's presentation at the William Blair's Growth Stock Conference on June 12 and said that Fusion's ioScale platform, a cost-reduced PCIe flash card product introduced in January, has ramped up well.

Eight of the company's twelve largest customers had ordered the product in the most recent quarter, he added. The ioScale product will likely represent the majority of sales in the June quarter and its popularity is allowing Fusion-io to add new webscale customers, such as Spotify and price-sensitive webscale customers in Asia.

Some digital music services use Fusion's ioMemory platform in data centers to deliver music to listeners. Ader notes "Fusion's software and product diversification strategy has been slow to gain some traction. In our view, Fusion must quickly introduce 2Y- and 1Y-based NAND PCIe products to solidify its technical lead over competitors."

Fusion-io could be developing 2.5 inch form factor SSDs. Rakers said-- "Conversations suggested that Fusion-io is also working on 2.5 inch form factor solutions."

According to Ader, Fusion CFO Woolf said the company wants profitable growth. Recently appointed Fusion-io CEO Shane Robinson is dropping a large number of science-type R&D projects that started under Flynn's watch with little prospect of any good return on the capital employed. He will focus R&D on fewer projects with a better ROI prospect.

Rakers says Fusion's sales partnership with Cisco is gaining some traction, and its other unions - with Dell, HP and IBM - are strong.

Fusion-io talked about the positive effects of its ION Data Accelerator software at last week's HP Discover conference in Las Vegas.

HP is Fusion-io's biggest OEM partner. The ION technology provided 24.2GB/sec of throughput and in excess of 2 million IOPS for an Oracle database application environment running on a ProLiant DL980 server.

It was networked to three ProLiant DL380 servers in a 16 Gbit/s Fibre Channel SAN setup with Brocade switchgear and QLogic HBAs. Four HP IO Accelerators, OEM'ed from Fusion-io, were deployed with 2.4 TB capacity each. HP stated "Fusion-io engineering developed optimisation scripts to leverage terabytes of shared Fusion ioMemory capacity."

ProLiant servers with an ION Data Accelerator shared storage system achieved number one VMmark 2.5 two-node results across the two-processor, four-processor and eight-processor server categories as well.

Robinson is now firmly in control at Fusion, being chairman of the board and president as well as its CEO. He has made some management changes. Richard Boberg, executive vice president for strategic business development and general manager of caching solutions, is retiring in September, the board said.

Global sales vice president James Dawson was promoted to chief sales officer. Jeffrey Treuhaft moves from senior vice president for corporate development to executive vice president of products.

In other IT news

Oracle is announcing the availability of Java EE 7, the first major release of enterprise Java since the company took control of the platform in 2010.

The last version shipped more than four years ago. Support for HTML5 and its related technology is one of the key themes of this new release. Among the new APIs included with Java EE 7 are version 2.0 of the Java API for Asynchronous Web Services (JAX-RS) and new APIs to support WebSockets and JSON processing.

Backend enterprise applications will also benefit, Oracle says. Java EE 7 now allows several batch operations to be split into manageable chunks for improved OLTP processing, and it includes a new API that allows developers to define multithreaded concurrent tasks more easily. Java Message Service has also been improved.

A full list of the features that made it past the Java Community Process final approval ballot, the results of which were announced on April 30 is available on the Oracle site.

But equally notable are some of the planned features that didn't make it into this release. As is becoming a pattern for the Java development process under Oracle, a number of technologies that were originally slated for Java EE 7 were pushed forward to the next version.

Originally, Oracle had said Java EE 7 was going to be "the best application server for the cloud," complete with built-in support for platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments and multitenancy.

In September 2012, the Java EE 7 Expert Group agreed to defer these capabilities until Java EE 8, claiming that implementing them properly would hold up the current release for at least a year.

Source: Fusion-io.

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