XtremSW Cache is EMC’s intelligent caching software. It allows storage admins to extend EMC’s FAST (Fully-Automated Storage Tiering) capabilities to server Flash. Doing so improves application performance by providing accelerated reads. Today, XtremSW Cache provides write-through caching (write-back caching is on the roadmap, but won’t be available in 2013).
Version 2.0 adds several integration and interoperability features, detailed below.
XtremSW Cache is most-tightly integrated with the EMC VMAX array. When used with the VMAX, XtremSW Cache can be managed directly from Unisphere, EMC’s array management software.
This management allows admins to select which LUNs to apply XtremSW Cache acceleration to, based on usage-trend analysis. Admins can also get XtremSW Cache performance reports directly from Unisphere.
When used for a VMAX LUN, two XtremSW Cache features are enabled: read full track and optimized read miss. Read full track, also known as prefetch, allows for more efficient “warming” of the cache and tracking of data hot spots. Use of read full track can improve I/O rates up to 25%.
Using optimized read miss unlocks the true power of XtremSW Cache. Optimized read miss, also known as cache coordination, moves the read cache tier to cache on the host. This frees up resources on the array and can provide up to a 2.5X IOPS increase on the host.
While XtremSW Cache doesn’t have as much integration with the VNX as it does with VMAX, there’s still some really good stuff in there. More VNX integration is on the roadmap, so I expect some of the VMAX features will be available with VNX in the future.
With VNX, EMC says XtremSW Cache can be managed from Unisphere Remote, and that’s mostly true. Unisphere Remote provides a call-out that will bring admins to the XtremSW Cache Manager software.
Similar to VMAX, admins can select which LUNs to apply XtremSW Cache acceleration to, based upon usage-trend analysis. Admins can monitor the performance and health of the XtremSW Cache software.
When used with VNX, admins can also automatically discover and easily configure XtremSW Cache.
With version 2.0, XtremSW Cache expands its interoperability. It is now supported in IBM AIX environments. It provides enhanced support for VMware vCenter features like HA, vMotion, and DRS, including support for fully-transparent vMotion actions.
On the hardware side, XtremSW Cache 2.0 can be used with any server Flash hardware. It will obviously work with XtremSF, EMC’s server-based PCIe Flash product, but it also works with competing PCIe Flash products like Fusion-IO. Additionally, XtremSW Cache can now use local SSDs installed in hosts as a cache layer.
Today, XtremSW Cache provides performance benefits for single Oracle instances, but EMC is working on expanding its Oracle interoperability and plans to offer full support for Oracle RAC in October. This functionality will be available for limited customer access in mid-September.
XtremSW Management Center
With version 2.0, the XtremSW Management Center software now provides a single interface for configuring and managing multiple XtremSW Cache instances.
XtremSW Cache 2.0 is available now, having entered General Availability on 30 August.