Formulus Black consciously uncouples from Ubuntu

Formulus Black has issued a major release of Forsa that sees the software unbundled from Ubuntu OS and adding support for Optane memory and more CPU sockets to run apps faster.

The in-memory app accelerator startup’s software re-encodes application code into Formulus bit markers, effectively deduplicating and enabling it to run in memory, as a Logical Extended Memory (LEM) unit with no swapping or paging external IO and working set data in memory, thus speeding up execution time.

Another way of looking at it is to say that Forsa amplifies the available memory up to fourfold so that 3TB of DRAM looks like 12TB.

Forsa 3

The latest release, Forsa 3.0, supports Ubuntu and Centos and has added support for Red Hat Linux. The Ubuntu unbundling does not affect performance, the company said. V3.0 also gets:

  • Cascade Lake SP and Optane DIMM support,
  • Scalable beyond 2 CPU sockets, with 4 and 8 supported and 32 being checked,
  • Logical Extended Memory stretched to support multiple nodes,
  • More granular instant copies ((Blinks) of virtual machines or LEMs,
  • Docker container support.

System image copies, called Blinks, are written to SSDs – 3TB raw memory taking seven minutes – and can be reloaded for a system recovery or as part of normal power-up, saving application load time.

Amplifying memory

in a phone briefing this week, Formulus Black COO Jing Xie told us Forsa 3.0 uses Optane Direct Mode and spreads the byte-addressable range of data across multiple CPUs without the application having to know.

Going beyond 2-socket support was important to Formulus Black, he said. Forsa’s v3.0’s app performance, with memory pooled across the processors in a NUMA (Non-Universal Memory Architecture) scheme, scaled more linearly than a NUMA system without Forsa, he added.

As well as amplifying memory, Forsa can reduce the number of CPU cores required to reach a particular performance level. This can be helpful with software such as VMware which is licensed on a per-core basis.

Formulus Black is investigating a 2-node high-availability scheme with a LEM able to failover from node to node. This involves replicating a LEM or a VM from node to node and will be good for customer-developed applications which need high-availability.

Performance boost

Cascade Lake and Optane support improved a MySQL application’s 8,025 transactions per sec on a 4-socket system. When a Forsa 3.0 version of that application ran on the same hardware; it was rated at 12,000 tps.

A customer called etherFAX was able to render documents 3.4x faster with Forsa, with average document render time dropping to 89.4ms. IO-intensive apps benefit the most. Querying a week’s average fare and tip amount for NYC TAXI using the PostgreSQL database took 320.6 secs with an Ubuntu virtual machine using NVMe SSDs. It took 4.67 secs with Forsa; 68.7x faster


Startups like Formulus Black with radically new software technology have to show customers that their software really does do what it says it can do,

It has has accumulated some case studies and performance whitepapers, such as one talking about 22.9 transactions per minute with SQL Server

Shipping its app as an OS (ForsaOS) was a limitation and the unbundling of the OS extends Forsa’s applicability to non-Ubuntu shops. The increased CPU socket support and Blink granularity make Forsa both more manageable and more scalable than before.

Red Hat Linux support will extend market reach significantly and Optane support should help Formulus Black again. It may also help Intel sell more Optane persistent memory as Forsa enables a chunk of Optane memory for amplification. This enables it to hold deduped applications which need more Optane capacity than is available in their raw state. A 4x Optane DIMM amplification by Forsa could be viewed as an effective Optane price cut to 25 per cent off list price.