Intel tech and Lightbits Labs make NVMe/TCP faster

Lightbits Labs is working with Intel to make its NVMe/TCP all-flash arrays almost as fast as RoCe and InfiniBand options, which require much more expensive cabling.

And Intel Capital has plunked an undisclosed sum into the startup to help make it happen. Eran Kirzner, Lightbits Labs CEO, issued a quote: “We are excited to partner with Intel Corporation, and our joint solutions will set the bar for generating new ROI metrics for enterprise and cloud customers.”

Lightbits and Intel have demonstrated NVMe/TCP with a 146μs access latency by using Intel’s Ethernet 800 Series network adapters with application device queues (ADQ) technology.

ADQ sets up application specific queues so that high priority packets get dealt with faster. The companies say ADQ enables NVMe oF/TCP to achieve distributed storage performance in the same range as RDMA-based protocols, meaning 100 – 120μs.

The test system also showed up to 70 per cent increase in IOPS at high queue depths. A white paper describes the testing in much more detail.


The two are so pleased with this that Lightbits will optimise its LightOS to work with an all-flash array using five Intel technologies:

  • Optane persistent memory
  • Intel 3D NAND SSDs based on QLC flash
  • Xeon Scalable processors with artificial intelligence (AI) acceleration capabilities
  • Ethernet 800 Series Network Adapters with Application Device Queues (ADQ) technology.
  • Intel’s FPGAs to handle dedupe and compression

The idea is that Optane DIMMs will make the array operations faster, QLC SSDs will send capacity up and cost/GB down, and the AI-optimised Xeons will speed machine learning and similar work. The LightOS and array will provide a composable and disaggregated storage system.

Remi El-Ouazzane, Intel Data Platforms chief strategy and business development officer, said: “The data centre is being transformed, with disaggregation and composability of resources being essential to meet the efficiency requirements needed to address the explosion of data.

“Our differentiated hardware capabilities coupled with Lightbits innovative NVMe over Fabrics software gives our joint customers an exceptional economic solution to address this strategic inflection point.”

Neither Intel nor Lightbits is providing any details on what composability will mean in practice.

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