Kioxia seeks to make the SSD more programmable
NAND flash manufacturer Kioxia has extended its flash technology to software to bring a greater degree of programmability to NAND storage. This decision will benefit hyperscalers the most, but will also have benefits for businesses and SMEs.
Kioxia (formerly Toshiba) introduced SEF for the first time last year. This is an open source API that works as a new kind of hardware flash controller to offload certain functions to a controller, freeing up the processor, while still allowing large data center environments to manage at scale.
Because the API is open source, competitors in the flash space can adopt the API and customize it for their hardware. Hyperscalers think of SSDs in terms of deploying and processing large-scale workloads. Kioxia notes that cloud providers often have different types of drives that they deploy for different use cases, like block storage versus file storage or ZNS.
The goal of SEF technology is to get rid of legacy hard drive operations, such as firmware-induced latency, the need for device-level DRAM and RAID buffers, and device-level power protection. peripheral. SEF takes full advantage of the compute aspect of SSDs, compared to mechanical hard drives, for things like allowing the host to control latency optimizations, allowing RAID to make host control decisions, preventing power losses and give access to the full capacity of each dying flash.
SEF allows protocols to be extended across many physical disks, then the customer can place the workloads up to the individual array on the physical devices and enclosures. This allows workloads to be distributed across multiple devices for scalability and resiliency.
It also allows workloads to be placed with the ideal controller, so specific workloads can be targeted on the best hardware. SEF also helps target specific types of NAND, like triple-level cells (TLC), which have higher durability, compared to four-level cells (QLC), which can be faster.
Cloud service providers aren’t the only companies that can benefit from the technology. Businesses and even SMEs can too. Everyone’s on-site infrastructure is a mix of storage; very few large companies have a single type or brand of storage. So the same benefits for cloud providers also apply to businesses.
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