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Attala Systems at FMS: Cross-Rack Scalability For NVMe over Fabric Composable Storage Infrastructure

August 2018 by Marc Jacob

Attala Systems showcased its implementation for cross-rack, lossy networks at the 2018 Flash Memory Summit yesterday. The Attala approach provides a way to utilize RoCE’s speed and low latency without the issues that have historically plagued its ability to be deployed on large-scale networks. The solution was developed with market leader Mellanox Technologies as a way to extend the reach of NVMe over RoCE (NVMe-oRoCE) networks with ordinary NICs and across lossy Layer 3 (L3) leaf-spine networks.

One of the most troublesome issues with RoCE-based protocols has been the need for the underlying networks to be lossless. While this is relatively easy for rack-scale deployments, it has historically been difficult to achieve on conventional layer three (L3) leaf-spine networks. By hardening the open-source SoftRoCE initiator, Attala’s own devices and providing SSDP-based discovery, Attala Systems has enabled its RoCE-based networking capability to operate on standard leaf-spine networks and with ordinary NICs. This allows cross-rack and ubiquitous deployment of NVMe-oRoCE’s industry-leading low latency and high performance on Ethernet networks at speeds from 10GbE to 100GbE and beyond.

The cross-rack scalability of the Attala Systems solution is enabled by hardening the open-source SoftRoCE initiator driver and its own devices to gracefully handle packet-drops in a L3 leaf-spine networks – even those which do not support priority flow control (PFC) for achieve losslessness. This unshackles NVMe-over-RoCE solutions from the confines of a single rack and specific servers. Attala’s solution also includes an autonomous Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) based discovery mechanism for newly added end-points, solving a common issue experienced by IP networks being utilized for scale-out infrastructure deployments. The community-hardened open-source SoftRoCE initiator driver runs on any ordinary NIC, enabling 100% compatibility with any Linux-based host server across the data center.

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