One question we get in the STH mailbox every few days is when will we finally see NVMe dual-port storage arrays. One company already selling HA NVMe solutions in the market is E8 Storage. We had the opportunity to spend some time with the folks from E8 Storage, AIC and Mellanox at Computex 2017 this week. E8 Storage is a startup founded by ex-IBMers utilizing dual-port NVMe drives to achieve a low latency, high bandwidth, high availability storage solution.
E8 Storage Solution Components
Central to the E8 Storage mission is the idea of replacing underutilized NVMe SSDs in standard rack servers with fast network storage. The idea is simple, move NVMe to a centralized storage server. Make that NVMe available with a high-availability node pair and use fast networking to deliver data to servers efficiently. At the end of the day, the E8 Storage solution is the NVMe version of what many companies have been doing with SAS and FC arrays for some time. One of the major differences is that it is able to hit 10 million IOPS in a relatively diminutive appliance.
The E8 Storage solution’s main building block is a 2U storage server based off of an AIC platform. At Computex 2017 the system was shown with a rack of AIC servers connected via Mellanox 25/50/100GbE networking supporting RoCE:
One can see from the rear of the unit that there is a shared chassis with two controller nodes. Each node is outfitted with multiple Mellanox NICs that, along with the Mellanox switches, allow for the setup to survive controller maintenance without downtime.
Using the AIC design the nodes are secured and hot swappable. This is something that was not available in the first-generation NVMe server designs STH saw some time ago. It is the direction we will see solutions move as NVMe replaces SAS in the data center.
If you want to learn more about E8 Storage, here is a quick video where they are showing over 10 million IOPS from their solution: