Storage and PCIe Gen 4

Storage and PCIe Gen 4 are made for each other. PCIe Gen 4’s potential to double storage controller bandwidth should significantly reduce the number of controllers a customer needs to meet their bandwidth and scalability requirements. However, your adoption of PCIe Gen 4 may be delayed for years by your storage vendor. If your vendor makes special “enhancements” to the storage servers they use, it may take them years to develop a PCIe Gen 4 version. The bigger problem, however, is their software. Will their legacy code and lack of ownership of the foundational elements of storage stand as a roadblock to exploiting PCIe Gen 4’s full potential?

Storage and PCIe Gen 4 Require Software Efficiency

All storage solutions, be they turnkey appliances or software-only solutions, rely on the underlying server hardware to power the code. Combining storage and PCIe Gen 4 means that the storage software must be very efficient. Only efficient software, which doesn’t add a bottleneck to the environment, will enable customers to see the full benefits of PCIe Gen. At the same time, not every data center will require PCIe Gen 4 so ongoing support of PCIe Gen 3 is also critical. 

Storage and PCIe Gen 4 Eliminate Scale-Up Complexity

StorONE’s storage software, the S1 Enterprise Storage Platform, can fully exploit the bandwidth of PCIe Gen 4. We expect, assuming your applications can drive it, to deliver 20+ GBs of bandwidth per storage controller (server) in our cluster. This means that a two-controller scale-up cluster will comfortably outperform most 8 or even 12 node clusters from our scale-out competitors. Fewer nodes mean lower physical hardware costs, lower networking costs, less data center floor space, and lower power costs as well as easier operations. 

PCIe Gen also means a StorONE two-controller cluster will support double the number of physical media devices. The doubling of support of the number of media devices plus the doubling of per drive capacities means StorONE expects to support up to 30 petabytes of capacity in a single cluster by the end of this year. 

Storage and PCIe Gen 4 from Day 1

Today, our storage software extracts the full potential of Gen 3 servers and is already capable of doing the same for PCIe Gen 4, without any revisions. Our support of Gen 3 will continue for as long as it remains practical. Our customers can upgrade to PCIe Gen 4 when they are ready and without disruption. The day PCIe Gen 4 motherboards reach the market, our customers can move to them, without delay. They will not have to wait six months to a year for us to develop a proprietary hardware solution that leverages them.  

A Seamless Migration to PCIe Gen 4

When our customers are ready to upgrade, they can do it non-disruptively without data migration. Because we turn very affordable, standard midrange servers into IO powerhouses, the overwhelming majority of our customers (85%+) can deploy our software in a highly-available configuration. In this configuration the move to PCIe Gen 4 is simple. Customers will down one controller, while the other controller will temporally assume control over all data services. The customer will then replace the first controller with a new PCIe Gen 4 system and power it up. Once they verify that the first controller is up and providing data services they will down the second controller and repeat the process with their second PCIe Gen 4 controller. 

The data connected to these controllers remain in place, there is no data migration process. Most customers can upgrade their complete storage infrastructure to PCIe Gen 4 in about 30 minutes during the middle of the day, with zero interruption of services, even if StorONE is managing petabytes of information. 

Repurpose Gen 3 Servers

Our customers, because again StorONE turns industry-standard servers into storage controllers, can repurpose their old servers for other use cases. They can use the PCIe Gen 3 server as a replication target in a DR site or even keep the system on-premises as storage for a readily accessible second copy of data, potentially eliminating the need for an external backup application. In next week’s virtual whiteboard session “Building a Better Backup Appliance,” I’ll discuss not only using StorONE as a backup appliance but also how when using StorONE in production it can entirely and safely replace backup.

Storage and PCIe Gen 4 Shouldn’t Raise Costs

While the cost of PCIe Gen 4 motherboards may be more expensive, many of our competitors’ systems will increase in cost exponentially. Our price advantage, which is already substantial, between our turnkey systems and our competitors’, will increase significantly. Why? In the same way, our competitors today struggle to extract maximum per drive performance from SSDs, we expect them to struggle to deliver on the full potential bandwidth of PCIe Gen 4. 

Storage and PCIe Gen 4 Should Lower Costs.
Storage and PCIe Gen 4 Should Lower Costs

The reason that other storage vendors won’t be able to deliver the full benefit of hardware innovation is, as always, is their continued dependence on antiquated code developed over a decade ago. Their storage engines were designed in an era of small hard disk-based systems, not high capacity flash, and high bandwidth PCIe Gen 4 motherboards. To compensate for their software’s impact on performance, our competitors need to overcompensate by making their customers buy massive (and expensive) amounts of CPU power and RAM capacity. 

StorONE is PCIe Gen 4 Ready

Our customers also won’t have to place overpowered CPUs and massive amounts of memory in the servers to attempt to live up to the potential of the motherboard. StorONE’s efficient storage engine will deliver maximum PCIe Gen 4 performance on standard servers from day one. This engine, however, is about more than PCIe Gen 4. For example, our vRAID leverage this engine to take full advantage of high-performance, high-density flash and hard disk drive technology where typical RAID solutions can’t, as we discuss in “Drive Density Kills RAID

StorONE is Ready for Storage and PCIe Gen 4
StorONE is Future Ready

StorONE is different. We invested seven years of development effort to rewrite the foundation of storage, with an extreme focus on efficiency to deliver total resource utilization. Our storage engine is designed for the innovations that are coming to market today and over the next decade. 

Learn More

To learn more join StorONE’s CEO Gal Naor and CMO George Crump as they discuss the innovations that storage architects can expect to have in their hands this year and how those technologies will enable them to meet organizational demands and budget realities. These two industry veterans will also discuss the ramifications these new technologies have on storage software and how storage software needs to evolve to keep pace with the record setting hardware advancements.

To learn more about PCIe Gen 4 check out “How Do I Prepare for PCIe Gen 4?

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George Crump

George Crump

George has over 25 years of experience in the storage industry, holding executive sales and engineer positions. Before joining StorONE, he was the founder and lead analyst at Storage Switzerland.

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