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X-IO exploits NVMe to develop super-fast Axellio flash storage

X-IO comes out of stealth with Intel-backed Axellio that will see up to 0.25PB and 12 million IOPS from a 2U box using NVMe as an internal interconnect to speak natively with CPUs

X-IO will build storage platforms that use NVMe as an internal fabric in a move that could result in products that provide a step change in storage performance. A possible 12 million input/output per second (IOPS) in a 2U physical platform is claimed likely by X-IO.

X-IO’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and alliances vice-president Gavin McLaughlin said the company had been working on Project Axellio for around two years.

The current phase will see it enter beta, in which the physical platform will be tested by customers, but via OEM partners who will use the hardware as a physical platform for hyper-converged flash storage products.

Axellio comes as a 2U box with four sockets for Intel Broadwell central processing units (CPUs) and up to 88 cores. It uses NVMe – a subset of PCIe (the standard for server card connections) – to provide a fabric and interconnect for up to 88 flash drives, with every CPU able to see every drive. This, it claims, will provide performance of up to 12 million IOPS, 50μs latency and 20GBps throughput.

X-IO has been working with Intel on the architecture and hopes to get a jump on the rest of the market, said McLaughlin. What’s to stop other hardware makers doing the same thing?

“They could, but it’s not easy to put together to get a balanced system and would probably take nine to 12 months,” said McLaughlin.

He said X-IO had worked with Intel on the dual ported drives made possible by NVMe, and claimed to be the only storage supplier with such solid state drives (SSDs).

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NVMe is a subest of PCIe and provides advantages over the SAS (serial-attached SCSI) interconnect largely used for storage media to date. NVMe communicates natively with the CPU and doesn’t have the overhead of the translation layer in SAS.

McLaughlin claimed the density possible from Axellio would provide around 0.25PB in 2U and that it would be “a quarter to a half of the price of [EMC’s] DSSD”.

Axellio is now in beta and will be available to OEMs as a platform for hyper-converged products in the third quarter. Later stages in the roadmap include allowing scale-out architectures that will link all CPUs and all storage in multiple connected nodes.

McLaughlin said Axellio-based products will be hyper-converged ones targeted at analytics and transactional workloads. He added that X-IO have developed a Hadoop engine based on the architecture.

Hyper-converged infrastructure combines compute, storage and networking in one box. This is a trend in part inspired by the modular hyperscale architectures pioneered by web giants such as Google and Facebook. X-IO also plans to use Axellio to develop its own storage platform in which it will merge with its ISE product.

Read more on Storage fabric, switches and networks