I am asked often about Apeiron’s architecture and the Fabrics initiative. My thoughts are posted here on the differences and similarities. These solutions are complimentary, but address different market segments. Apeiron is working to address the need to provide externally attached, pooled NVMe storage features to what was traditionally Direct Attached Storage (DAS or scaleout).
NVMeF is addressing the need for data centers to disaggregate storage and access disparate storage silos/tiers. It evolved from need to “include” the data center storage solutions in the market today, and therefore must cover a larger swath of these legacy solutions. While they will need to have common IT management capabilities they are very different in how they are implemented.
NVMeF is making use of RDMA over various transport protocols. It is designed to work over any transport layer, and defines a rich feature set. It is a more complex protocol which requires more storage processing. This architecture still leads to “storage box” centric solutions. NVMe SSD commands must be rebuilt on the storage side but provides additional storage capabilities. For Apeiron these capabilities are provided by the application, OS and application CPU complex (versus a storage controller).
Apeiron’s products are designed around server or application storage management. We simply tunnel native NVMe commands over a hardened layer 2-40Gb Ethernet network, and rely upon the “storage aware” application to manage the storage as if it was internal disk. Apeiron is simply moving PCIe TLP’s from the application server directly to the NVMe SSD. The same NVMe commands a SSD sees if installed directly on the PCIe bus. Each server must track only a small number of connections, enabling the system to scale to 1000’s of drives without performance degradation. To realize the potential of NVMe, and especially technologies such as Intel’s Optane technology, you must have an ultra-fast network and lightweight protocol. Apeiron’s total induced latency is <3µS round trip. Server class NVMe drives can be under 15µS of latency. Apeiron passes this entire performance gain directly to the application. These products will co-exist in the market and may overlap in some use cases in the future as capabilities expand. Of course, the most important point is that Apeiron is shipping product today.