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IBM Enables Computational Storage For Storage And Kioxia Enables Disaggregated Storage

Let’s look at recent announcements from IBM and Kioxia. IBM announced new storage systems based upon their Flash Core Module (FCM). The latest generation IBM FCM uses MRAM as a writer cache to enable the use of QLC flash for enterprise applications and the company is using in-device processing to enable a wide range of off-load data processing to provide higher effective capacity, monitoring and search capabilities. Kioxia’s KumoScale 3.20 storage software supports NVIDIA GPUDirect storage, greater bare metal support and new security capabilities. Let’s find out more.

Andy Walls of IBM discussed two new flash-based storage systems at a recent analyst briefing. The FlashSystem 7300 and the FlashSystem 9500 and FS9500R. Both products utilize IBM Flash Core Module and support IBM’s Spectrum Virtualize and Storage Insights software. The IBM FCM uses up to 38.4TB of Micron QLC Flash for storage and EverSpin MRAM for write caching to provide twice the endurance of standard NVMe drives (2 drive writes per day, 2 DWPD). The 9500 holds 48 FCMs. IBM says that over 200,000 FCMs have shipped. An IBM FCM is shown below.

IBM’s third generation FMC include enhanced microprocessors that provide what the Andy called “computational storage for storage.” This FCM accelerator computation supports in-line compression and decompression to provide higher effective SSD storage (up to 116TB for the 38.4TB SSD). Parts of storage applications can be off-loaded from the CPU to the FCM. Processing can be distributed among many FCMs to perform replication, snapshots, data reduction, encryption/decryption and monitoring.

The 9500 FlashSystem can sustain up to 100GB/s performance. There is 168GB/s of NVMe bandwidth inside the 9500. With 2:1 compression the NAND flash supports about 768GB/s. This high bandwidth inside of the FCMs can be utilized to process data much faster than would be possible if that data was moved to the CPU. IBM is utilizing this performance to implement innovative assists to accelerate various storage services but also to analyze the stored information to get key information about data such as real time changes in entropy and heat of access. IBM sees the FCMs as compute elements for Spectrum Virtualize.

The IBM FCM can perform filtering, searching and scanning to assist in analytics and machine learning, e.g. to be used for malware detection. The search function and scan log files to look for various strings. IBM said that work is being done in standards bodies to define APIs needed for host system or databases to determine which parts of volumes need scanning in the FCM. Andy also said that the FCM’s also contain RISC-V processor capability that will be utilized for additional future storage computing capability.

With the release of Kioxia’s SumoScale 3.20 storage software built around NVMe over fabrics (with the NVMe-oF protocol) the company is now offering support for NVIDIA Magnum IO GPUDirect Storage (GDS). GDS enables a direct data path for direct memory access (DMA) transfers between GPU memory and storage, which avoids moving data through the CPU. This direct path increases system bandwidth and decreases the latency and utilization load on the CPU. KumoScale software behaves as a storage adapter to GDS.

KumoScale 3.20 adds an option to deploy on generally available commercial operating systems for bare metal installation. KumoScale software “managed mode” enables complete flexibility for engineering and security administrators to configure, integrate and control the KumoScale software storage layer OS environment, while KumoScale software “appliance mode” provides simpler installation and automated deployment with reduced deployment complexity for small and medium enterprise customers but with more limited OS configurability.

The software also offers additional security features and CSI raw block support and an embedded Grafana storage analytics dashboard.

IBM’s latest generation FCMs are using high internal speed and compute in memory to offer higher effective capacities and other useful off-load capabilities. Kioxia KumoScale 3.20 software supports GPUDirect Storage and more bare metal storage options.