Data Centre


Huawei developing NMVe over IP SSD

Seagate Kinetic drive idea had Huawei genesis and has Huawei follow-on

By Chris Mellor


Analysis Huawei is developing an NVMe over IP SSD with an on-drive object storage scheme meaning radically faster object storage and a re-evaluation of what object storage's very purpose.

At the Huawei Connect 2017 event in Shanghai, Guangbin Meng, Storage Product Line President for Huawei, told El Reg Huawei is developing an NVMe over IP SSD to overcome in-system scaling limits. Such an SSD could enable an all-flash array to scale up to tens of thousands of nodes. Each drive would have its own IP address.

This reminds El Registero of Seagate’s Kinectic disk drive idea, in which each disk drive has its own Ethernet address and implements an object storage scheme with Get and Put data access operators. The Kinetic disk concept seems to have run its course inside Seagate and facing oblivion. However startup OpenIO is persevering with object storage disks. Igneous has similar ideas with Ethernet-Accessed, ARM CPU-driven disks.

Cameron Bahar, VP and CTO for Enterprise Storage at Huawei’s Santa Clara facility, says Huawei actually had the Kinetic drive idea before Seagate. He explains that Garth Gibson, the man who developed RAID proposed a NAS-attached storage disk in a pre-2000 paper. He then went to Panasas as CTO and tried to develop the idea but it didn’t get any traction.

In 2012 Huawei built an object store in its Santa Clara facility using key:value disks. Each disk had a daughter card attached to it with an ARM CPU, DRAM and Linux. The device was even patented.

However a Huawei employee went to Seagate and persuaded Seagate to develop its Kinetic disk. The drives there already had ARM CPUs inside them looking after the internal disk drive functions, Bahar said the extra cost for a Kinetic drive, the Kinetic tax, was US$20. That's quite high, especially for those who buy disks by the thousand as you would when building the kind of scale-out rigs at which object storage excels.

Back to Huawei and its NVMe over IP concept for flash drives; SSDs. Huawei had the idea of combining this with the on-drive object store and creating an object storage system composed from individual flash drive nodes. The object storage software is Huawei’s own and involves a key:value store on each drive.

Bahar talked about two kinds of object store; cheap and deep S3-style which is the traditional idea, and fast object stores based on key:value store flash drive nodes.

What happens if we have very fast object stores? Let’s put them in an array and add a NAS gateway. We then have a flash-based and vastly-scalable filer. There could be different types of flash; faster and slower drives for example. How enterprises or cloud service providers could use such an array is a fascinating question. We might imagine video production, security surveillance systems, big data analytics and AI/machine learning applications might have an interest in it.

It’s only Huawei at present, with a developing and dramatically faster object storage system based on NVME over IP-accessed flash drive nodes. It’s a promising concept that could find traction. Let’s see where it goes. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily


More from The Register

The new Huawei is going upmarket, but the old Huawei still threatens

Analysis If this all feels rather familiar, you'd be right

Huawei wants to print data centres for telcos to fling at governments

ShapeCloud scheme to build bit barns on demand

Huawei CFO poutine cuffs by Canadian cops after allegedly busting sanctions on Iran

Exec could face trial in the US for 'cutting deals' with White House's Middle East bête noire

Ex-Huawei man claims Chinese giant is suing his startup to 'surpass' US tech dominance

Both parties accuse each other of IP theft

Huawei's Alexa-powered AI Cube wants to squat in your living room too

IFA Get the White House on the line – it's not even cubic

Huawei's Watch GT snubs Google for homegrown OS

Behold, a new Chinese platform?

Seagate and Western Digital neck-and-neck at the nearline drive-in

Seagate ships more units, WD more capacity – it's a wash

It's wall-to-wall Huawei: Chinese behemoth hogs five of six top spots in SPC-1 array benchmark

The firm everyone loves to fear sets new all-flash record

You think you're hot bit: Seagate tests 16TB HAMR disk drive

Plans to drop it like it's hot in 2019...

15% revenue growth is great for most – but it's piddling if you're Huawei

Firm hoping its all-cloud network and 5G kit will make it rain...