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Apeiron brings NVMe shared direct-attached storage in its ADS1000

Startup removes storage controller and its CPU from the data path to leverage NVMe’s blistering performance with direct-attached flash storage aimed at the likes of Hadoop and Splunk

Moore’s Law can’t keep up with the rate at which, according to the NVMe roadmap, flash and solid state storage will increase in terms of capacity and performance.

That’s the central premise of the efforts of startup Apeiron, and the practical result of that is a flash storage product that completely does away with Moores Law-bound CPUs in the data path from server to storage.

In other words, Apeiron, which is Greek for “unlimited”, offers a storage array with no controller.

Traditional storage arrays use a controller to manage protocol processing during input/output (I/O) operations and provide higher-level functions such as replication, data deduplication etc.

Instead, Apeiron wraps NVMe in Ethernet (via a layer 2 tunnel) and offers a direct-attached connection from Apeiron servers equipped with host bus adapter (HBA) to solid state storage that is seen as a network endpoint. No storage switching is required.

Non-volatile memory express (NVMe) is a PCIe-based standard that allows solid state storage to work to its full potential by hugely increasing drive connectivity performance, with large numbers of queues and vastly increased queue depth in the I/O path compared to existing SAS and SATA drive protocols.

Apeiron dodge controls functionality by using the inbuilt storage management features of analytics platforms such as Splunk, Apache Spark and Hadoop that manage their own file system, redundant array of inexpensive disks (RAID), replication etc.

“There’s no protocol processing on the machine. We rely on apps to manage storage,” said Apeiron sales and marketing vice-president, Jeff Barber.

In so doing, its competition is not the traditional storage array, but scale-out webscale and hyperscale architectures. It enables direct-attached storage to solid state storage via NVMe that can be seen as single drives or concatenated into logical unit numbers (LUNs).

Read more about NVMe

  • NVMe brings blistering performance gains over existing HDD-era disk protocols, and is a straight swap-in for PCIe server-side flash with array and hyper-converged products on the way.
  • We talk NVMe form factor choices – add-in card vs U.2. vs M.2 – and their uses, for primary storage or cache, with Server StorageIO founder and analyst Greg Schulz.

Storage media sits in an Apeiron box that comes in ADS1000 2U nodes with 24 NVMe drives (185TB, 244TB possible in June 2017) and 32 40Gbps Ethernet ports. Each server must have an Apeiron HBA.

Each ADS1000 can provide, says Apeiron, 18.4 million IOPS (random 4k reads) and 72GBps of throughput. By comparison, flash storage arrays in the more familiar controller-disk enclosure format provide IOPS in the range of a few hundred thousand per 1U of rack space.

Latency is 100μs, and that, says Apeiron, is the latency imposed by NAND flash, not its architecture.

Other storage boxes that use NVMe include EMC’s DSSD D5, E8’s D24 and the Mangstor NX Series.

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