Accelerate your Payroll Performance with F20 PCIe Card

I guess you already heard about Sun Storage F5100 Flash Array and its world record benchmarks.  

But it's not F5100 that I am going to talk about but its smaller sibling called Sun Flash Accelerator F20 PCIe Card.  The name is a mouthful like all Sun product names so I will just call it "The Accelerator Card" in the remainder of this blog entry.  Of course the idea is not to start with the answer and find a problem with it. But I am going to narrate  is how we saw a problem and then thought of using this answer to solve the problem.

Recently our group ISV-E was doing our standard thing of  making applications run best on Sun. In this particular project with PeopleSoft Enterprise 9.0 on M5000 system using Sun Storage 6540, we encountered a problem that certain batch jobs where taking a long time to execute. Peoplesoft Enterprise 9.0 actually have ways to breakup jobs and run them in parallel so as to use the multi-core of the multi-processor system. But yet we could not really leverage the system enough to be satisfactory.  In this project they were using Oracle Database 11g. I got to give it to Oracle, they do have good tools. We used Oracle Enterprise Manager and saw for the troubled batch process, it was showing lot of blue color in its output.

Also looking at the top Objects, the tool reported which tables and index were  troublesome which was causing that amount of blue appear in the chart. This "Blue" problem is what led us to an idea to test out the Accelerator Card in the system and see if can help out here. What we did was created a few tablespaces and spread them out on the four Flash Modules on the Accelerator Card and moved the highly active (or "hot" ) tables and indices to the newly created tablespace. What we saw was simply huge reduction in the blue area and more green. That lead to the slogan in our team

"Go Green with the Accelerator Card !"

The Accelerator card not only reduced the time on this process but many other batch processes which had high IO components.  Here is a relative comparison of how it helped (with additional slight boost from upgrading SPARC64 VII from 2.4Ghz to 2.53Ghz CPUs).

Of course the next question is what if you take the same thing to its bigger sibling, Sun Storage F5100 Flash Array, well that's exactly what we did and as they say the rest is history.(Hint: Read the world records link and search for PeopleSoft)  For more information check out Vince's blog entry on  PeopleSoft Enterprise Payroll 9.0 NA and also  Why Sun Storage F5100 is good for PeopleSoft 9.0 NA Payroll application.

Truly if you use Oracle and use Oracle Enterprise Manager to monitor your application performance and are turning blue by seeing lot of Blue area in the chart then just remember

"Go Green with the Accelerator Card !"


The thing about "PCIe SSD cards" is that with the SATA II flash disks, you have the SATA overhead. So even if an Intel X-25E is rated at 85 microseconds response times, with all the SATA specification, and with the southbrige latency, you really can't speed these things up much more, without dealing with those overhead issues.

So you have cards from Fusion-io, and Texas Memory Systems that talk natively, over PCI, and the performance is just unbelievable.

But this card I suspect is built on top of a hard drive controller for a reason.

Is this really in the same class at all, or is it just that they've glued some 'flash modules' aka hard drives without the cases, onto the pci yes, it doesn't take up any hard drive bays, but no...its not in the same class, and has huge latency issues.

Sure its ultrafast compared to rusting hard drives, but it is not fast compared to the competition, or else, you'd think would actually publish the specs on this thing.

I mean, am I wrong? If I am wrong, where is the datasheet, showing the latency? Fusion-io publishes the numbers, TMS publishes the numbers.

I know if someone is locked into a Sun support contract, this is the best they can get, but.....since you have access to this card, how about an indepth review? I'd like to see it.

Posted by Jake on October 14, 2009 at 12:13 PM EDT #

fyi, in case my post wasn't clear. With a SATA II solution, like Intel X-25E, you have .085 ms latency on the drive, plus another .095 ms due to the controller South Bridge, and ultimately you are looking at .18 ms latency on the drive, and you can do 5500 IOPS, single threaded (higher for multithreaded, but we all know not everything is multithreaded).

You go to something like an ioDrive, which is a NATIVE PCIe solution for SSD... and it has .05 ms latency total, and you do the same singlethreaded test and do 20,000 IOPS. Well some people claim even faster...but anyway, in general 20K for Native PCIe vs. 5.5K for a fast SATA II setup.

The 100,000 IOP style #'s are for maybe 32 threads, and is a whole different discussion....just to compare apples to apples, I'm talking about single threaded. is this a "native PCIe" class card, or is it like some of the hobbyist flash cards, where they just glue sata flash onto a sata hard drive controller....and call it a PCIe card, but isn't in the same class at all, in terms of speed.

Thats my question...I don't know. But I just wonder about two things....noone talking specifics at Sun, and the fact that it is, apparently built on a hard drive controller

Posted by Jake on October 14, 2009 at 12:30 PM EDT #

Hi Jake,

The preliminary specs are located here


Posted by Jignesh Shah on October 15, 2009 at 08:45 AM EDT #

Hi, after reading your blog, quite confuse when to use Solaris 10/OpenSolaris and x86/CMT.

Posted by Terence Ng on October 20, 2009 at 05:07 PM EDT #


You did your test on a m5000, but it is not a supported system when I look at the spec sheet.

I'm looking for a solution accelerate my zfs fs on a m4000, will the f20 card be a goot place to put the zlog and arc2?


Posted by David Paquin on January 29, 2010 at 12:07 PM EST #

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Jignesh Shah is Principal Software Engineer in Application Integration Engineering, Oracle Corporation. AIE enables integration of ISV products including Oracle with Unified Storage Systems. You can also follow me on my blog


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