New Marvell NVMe Switch Solutions at OCP Summit 2018

Marvell NVMe Switch And New NVMe Controllers Example
Marvell NVMe Switch And New NVMe Controllers Example

At OCP Summit 2018, Marvell launched two new drive controllers. The standout release for us is clearly the Marvell NVMe switch product. The new Marvell 88NR2241 NVMe switch solves a common problem in NVMe architectures: connecting more drives to limited PCIe root resources and providing some intelligence to the solution.

The Marvell 88NR2241 NVMe Switch

We had the opportunity to see the Marvell in action at OCP Summit 2018. The Marvell 88NR2241 NVMe switch can provide up to 6.4 GB/s of throughput and up to 1.6M random IOPS. At the show, the solution was shown providing up to 1M IOPS due to the Core i7 CPU in the test machine being pegged at 100% CPU utilization:

Marvell NVMe Switch Demo At OCP Summit 2018
Marvell NVMe Switch Demo At OCP Summit 2018

The actual hardware utilized multiple NVMe SSDs on risers:

Marvell NVMe Switch Demo Hardware At OCP Summit 2018
Marvell NVMe Switch Demo Hardware At OCP Summit 2018

That small setup is pushing about 6GB/s and over 1M IOPS in the show floor demo. Unlike PCIe switch solutions, the Marvell NVMe switch allows for capabilities like managing the namespace for NVMe drives and RAIDing the solution.

That has a profound impact as one can have RAID 1 SSDs, for example for boot devices. This is a shot of a Marvell NVMe switch enabled product called a Server Boot Board with a NVMe switch and two m.2 drives:

Marvell NVMe Switch Server Boot Board
Marvell NVMe Switch Server Boot Board

The unit was encased in lots of plastic, but the back side had a second m.2 slot.

If you are wondering what the application for that may be, here is our best guess: a next-generation Dell EMC PowerEdge BOSS.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R640 BOSS With SSDs
Dell EMC PowerEdge R640 BOSS With SSDs

The Dell EMC BOSS is a RAID 1 boot solution that currently uses SATA m.2 form factor SSDs and a Marvell SATA controller. One can see a next-generation solution using the NVMe switch to provide transparent redundancy instead of additional raw performance.

For higher-performance applications, such as the one demoed at OCP Summit 2018, Marvell can use its NVMe switch to aggregate the performance of multiple sets of NAND and DRAM cache behind its new NVMe controllers.

New Marvell NVMe NAND Controllers

Along with the NVMe switch launch, Marvell also launched two new NVMe controllers capable of saturating the PCIe 3.0 generation interface. They were designed for NVMe 1.3 and TLC 3D NAND which are becoming mainstream standards in 2018.

Here is an excerpt from the official press release:

The 88SS1098 and 88SS1088 are Marvell’s latest PCIe Gen3x4 NVMe SSD controllers supporting single and dual port functionality, the NVMe 1.3 standard, and open channel architectures. Both controllers are powered by Marvell’s fourth generation of NANDEdge™ LDPC error correction technology, which provides support for the latest 3D NAND TLC and QLC technologies, extending SSD lifetime while maintaining best-in-class latency and performance consistency. These controllers leverage Marvell’s highly advanced and proven system-on-chip (SoC) processor architectures to enable up to 3.6 GB/s of throughput and up to 800k of random read IOPS, supporting up to 16 NAND channels and 16 GB DRAM.

These Marvell chipsets can support up to industry-leading 32 TB capacities, allowing support of a full range of cloud and enterprise SSD solutions – including M.2, NGSFF, U.2, PCIe add-in-cards, EDSFF and custom-built. The chipset architectures present data center storage architects with new building blocks through which to innovate and optimize their cloud services and workloads with emerging memories, offload accelerators and new data center infrastructure architectures.


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Patrick has been running STH since 2009 and covers a wide variety of SME, SMB, and SOHO IT topics. Patrick is a consultant in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about server, storage and networking, building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.


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