Generally speaking, it has to be said that I’m not too interested when I hear something like “Company A announces that its chips have been used in Company B’s products…” ...and I speak from the position of someone who typically receives numerous such reports each and every day.
On the other hand… I can’t help reading them on the off-chance that there’s some interesting nugget of knowledge, which turned out to be the case in the release I just received from the folks at Xilinx.
The bottom line is that by completely offloading RAID operation from CPUs into FPGAs, the cost-effective solution described in this release can deliver comparable performance to some of the most costly, high-end server boards on the market.
This is one of those things that I simply wouldn’t have thought of myself, but as soon as I heard it I thought “Well, that makes sense.” When you have something that’s as computationally intensive as RAID, with algorithms that lend themselves to hardware acceleration… FPGAs seem to be an obvious answer.
Having said this, I cannot imagine how to set about implementing RAID in FPGAs… I’m sure that it’s non-trivial … but then, if it was easy everybody would be doing it :-)
The “official” announcement is as follows:
Xilinx announced today that BIOSAP Taiwan, an alliance partner of RAID (redundant array of independent disks) controller and system company BIOS Corp. Japan, has designed Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGAs its ROMB miniITX ATOM motherboard for leading surveillance server and network attached storage system applications.
The FPGAs are being embedded into a RAID motherboard to enable system integrators to build highly reliable server appliances, such as surveillance video recorders and network attached storage. This particular ROMB appliance supports high sustained throughput and reliable data storage for new digital surveillance video recorders. Spartan-6 FPGAs have enabled designers to simplify the design of hardware and reduce production costs. Additionally, the flexibility of Spartan-6 FPGAs provide a highly programmable configuration and compact design for the RAID technology that can be adapted to incorporate new features without changing the hardware.
“Our partnering company, BIOS Corp. Japan, has a long history of success working with Xilinx for over 10 years now, so it made sense to continue the accomplished relationship,” said Dennis Lin, President of BIOSAP. “The Xilinx FPGAs played a key role as we introduce the first single chip RAID 6 ATOM motherboard in the world with dual Gigabit Ethernet and six hard drive interface which will be available in March 2012. We are looking forward to the next generation of Xilinx FPGAs, including the integration of CPU cores. We believe an all-in-one solution will deliver better cost performance in the future.”
With Spartan-6 FPGAs, BIOSAP has been able to deliver high-performance RAID in a constrained space on the motherboard. By completely offloading RAID operation from CPUs, the cost effective ROMB can deliver comparable performance to some of the most costly, high-end server boards on the market.
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