Seagate debuts NVMe HDD technology at OCP

Maria J. Danford

Seagate demoed HDDs jogging above the NVMe interface and expounded on the added benefits this kind of as simplification and consolidation of storage methods less than just one interface at the Open Compute Undertaking International Summit this 7 days in San Jose, Calif.

Buyers could profit from the new layout, but not appropriate away as the engineering is in its infancy, in accordance to industry specialists. In the course of Seagate’s presentation, executives showed a prerecorded demo, offered with Microsoft, of HDDs jogging on the NVMe bus, for the very first time publicly.

NVMe is both a host controller interface and a storage protocol. It is involved with SSDs and increased effectiveness but can also be seen as enabler engineering for storage composability and cloth connections to the host. With the launch of the NVMe 2. specification in June of this year, the interface has been extended to HDDs. Seagate is hoping to be the very first to ship the engineering with its hard drives.

Ed Burns, analysis director of HDD and storage technologies at IDC, sees assure in the engineering.

“It is enjoyable to see a vendor doing work with its prospects to build a engineering that retains a large amount of assure for lowering complexity and improving the capacity to deal with workloads,” he explained.

Nevertheless, he famous, it normally takes time for any sector to adapt, and HDDs with NVMe are still a few several years out for mainstream adoption.

NVMe to CPU vs SATA/SAS to CPU
SATA/SAS link compared to NVMe link

NVMe is just not all about effectiveness

David Allen, technologist in the workplace of the CTO at Seagate, explained all through the presentation, “Effectiveness was not the primary purpose or the reason that drove this. It was about simplifying the stack.”

Mohamad El-Batal, technologist in the workplace of the CTO at Seagate, echoed the place, stating the new NVMe interface is aimed at simplification and connecting to wherever the preceding frequent HDD storage protocols, SAS and SATA, utilized to connect. The entire method will have a frequent interface, that means bridging elements, this kind of as controllers and expanders for SATA and SAS and specialized motorists, can be eradicated, lowering complexity. The hard drives can be connected the same way as SSDs, either right to the CPU or via a PCIe switch.

NVMe HDDs provide facts centers nearer to composability with the link via NVMe above Fabrics (NVMe-oF), El-Batal explained. NVMe-oF can acquire mass amounts of storage pools and make them accessible to part composers. With SAS and SATA interface, it would very first have to be operate via a translation layer, which is computationally inefficient and expensive.

Yet another profit of employing NVMe with hard drives is improved assistance for Seagate’s multi-actuator engineering, which supply the mechanism to read and write facts to disks. At present multi-actuator is on the SAS system, El-Batal explained. Some apps require two sensible unit amount (LUN), one for every actuator. With NVMe there is no LUN discovery, so the host would not require to lookup for the LUNs every time, earning the system a lot more productive.

The remaining notable profit to the generate is what Seagate phone calls tri-manner abilities, that means the interface is appropriate with SATA, SAS and NVMe. Customers won’t have to decide on a unique product for unique requirements, it will all ship as the same SKU, with independent SKUs for solitary- and twin-port. The drives will be loaded with enablement of unique interfaces via the firmware, El-Batal explained.

Form component and energy

The new drives will still use the regular 3.5″ form component, but the energy requirements have been tweaked on the twelve and 5 volts, in accordance to Jason Adrian, senior director of the Azure system architecture at Microsoft. Irrespective of whether the interface is PCIe Gen 3 or Gen four has not been established, he explained. Assist for Gen four is the purpose, but the new HDDs will only require Gen 3, which will be the minimal supported.

Lesser energy cost savings will appear by eradicating SAS IOC and SAS expanders and replacing them with a solitary PCIe switch or right connecting the HDD to the CPU.

Conceived as a nearline SATA and SAS alternative and a lot more of an update on the interface alternatively of a new product classification completely, the NVMe HDD will have equivalent prices and energy makes use of, El-Batal explained. Currently being a alternative for SAS, the generate will have twin-port capability, which permits a number of hosts to connect to one gadget.

Not out, but ready to go

Engineering demo models of the HDDs with NVMe will be despatched to crucial prospects by September 2022, even though these will be solitary port drives. By the center of 2024, Seagate hopes to be shipping both solitary- and twin-port versions of shopper demo models.

The new drives work with existing x86 CPUs and operate with existing motorists, El-Batal explained. There are also the 4088 rotational media that enable the functioning method know it is attaching to an HDD, not an SSD, so exclusive motorists usually are not necessary for it to operate.

As the engineering matures, Seagate plans to target enterprises and speed up GPUs, such as potentially as an interface to mass storage and as a cloth attach for GPU immediate, in accordance to El-Batal.

Desire will come down to economics, IDC’s Burns explained. Lowering complexity and introducing a commonality of elements are attractive from a sensible standpoint, but vast adoption will almost certainly be seen when the rate is a lot more comparable to SATA.

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