EMC has launched a product that combines flash and caching technology to improve the performance of applications.

Called VFCache, the new hardware and software solution was first announced at EMC World in May last year as 'Project Lightning'. It effectively creates a higher tier of storage – a PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) flash card – in the server, onto which a copy of the "hottest" data can be put for fast and easy access.

Used in conjunction with EMC's Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) technology, which automatically moves the most-accessed data to the highest tier and data that does not need to be accessed as often on the lowest tier, EMC said that testing in an Oracle environment has shown a significant reduction in response time of applications.

"Now, the storage system can get three times as many transactions than they were able to before, and it processes as many transactions at half the response time," said Barry Ader, senior director of product management at EMC.

Rather than moving the actual data to the new tier, caching software enables only a copy of the data to reside on the PCIe card, while the actual data would continue to be written down to the Symmetrix VMAX or EMC VNX Flash-enabled storage arrays.

This delivers the data protection and disaster recovery features that will allow businesses to use their technology for mainstream mission critical applications, EMC said.

EMC first implemented flash drives into an enterprise storage array in 2008, which it said improved performance by making data access 300 times faster than 15K hard disk drives (HDD). By placing flash technology in the server on a PCIe card, the company said performance is now 4,000 times faster than 15K HDD.

Later this year, EMC plans to add deduplication technology to VFCache, and it will also integrate the technology further into its storage management technologies and FAST architecture.

It is also now working on 'Project Thunder', which it described as a purpose-built, low-latency, server networked flash-based appliance that is scalable and shareable.

"Project Thunder will deliver I/Os (Input/Output) measured in millions and timed in microseconds," EMC said.