Micron's SolidScale system pushes SSDs out to shared storage

Remote SSDs in Micron's SolidScale storage system behave like local SSDs

SSDs operate the fastest when inside a computer. Micron's new SolidScale storage system uproots SSDs from servers and pushes them into discrete boxes while reducing latency.

SolidScale is a top-of-the-rack storage system that will house many SSDs. It will connect to servers, memory, and other computing resources in a data center via gigabit ethernet, and will use the emerging NVMeoF (NVMe over Fabric) 1.0 protocol for data transfers.

The new storage system is faster than regular storage arrays, Micron claimed. SolidScale can deliver data more than two times faster than a standard all-flash array.

SolidScale is a step in decoupling SSDs from servers and putting them into shared storage in data centers. It also provides a power-efficient way of packing fast storage into tight spaces.

Micron's new storage technology is designed for data centers of the future, in which storage, networking, memory, and other resources will be decoupled and boxed together in discrete units. Ideas for similar designs are already floating around. Intel has open-sourced its Rack Scale Design, which has been adopted by major server vendors.

Such deployments are flexible for use with various workloads, including the cloud and databases, and can handle a variety of in-memory or storage driven applications. Pooled resources can also reduce electricity costs of data centers by more efficiently using cooling and other resources. Virtualization manages hardware use, and Micron is providing its own SolidScale middleware and management tools.

SolidScale fits into such software-defined storage environments and is highly scalable to meet various workloads. The storage system can be pooled across many connections and resources and can offload processing to CPUs on the edge. The storage array also gets direct access to server or pooled memory.

Deployments of SolidScale may start by the end of this year or in 2018, said Eric Endebrock, vice president for storage solutions marketing at Micron.

Micron already makes SSDs but is trying to break into the lucrative enterprise storage market. The storage system is still being tested by clients, but Micron ultimately hopes to make it available to customers. The NVMeoF 1.0 standard was finalized in June, but kinks are still being worked out. 

Many companies buy hyperconverged infrastructures, with server-attached storage from companies like Nutanix or Pure Storage. Integrating standalone Micron SolidScale storage alongside systems like HP's 3Par could be a hardware and software challenge. Micron's Endebrock said the company is investigating integration options going forward.

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