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GPU-based NVMe RAID Melts Your Face at 110 Gigabytes Per Second

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Graid Technology has released the latest version of its NVMe RAID solution, and it’s a scorcher. Instead of using a typical hardware RAID controller it uses a GPU to do the heavy lifting. The goal is to squeeze the absolute maximum level of performance from NVMe drives. Apparently, that’s exactly what it can do.

The product is called the SupremeRAID SR-1010, and it is a hardware RAID controller for NVMe and NVMeof (NVMe over fiber) storage. It’s billed as a solution that’s “designed to deliver the full potential of PCIe Gen4 systems.” It does that by using an Nvidia RTX A2000 GPU instead of a standard RAID controller. This affords it vastly more computational power than software RAID or other hardware solutions. Graid claims it can hit speeds as high as 110GB/s for a 512K sequential read, with 22GB/s writes. For comparison, it says “high-end hardware RAID” can only muster read speeds of 13.5GB/s with 4GB/s writes. It can also achieve 19 million 4K random read IOPS, compared to 3.5 million from other devices. The card runs on a PCIe Gen 4 X16 interface and supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10 on up to 32 NVMe SSDs. It supports Linux and Windows, but only Windows Server 2019 and 2022. You can see Storage Review take it out of the its anti-static bag below.

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This is an upgraded version of the previous drive, the SR-1000. The previous model was equipped with a a PCIe Gen 3 interface and Turing GPU. Both of those have now been upgraded, with PCIe Gen 4 and an Ampere-based A2000 GPU. This is a 70W professional card with 6GB or 12GB of GDDR6 with ECC. The main benefits of a GPU-based design is it is much faster than a traditional hardware RAID controller. It offloads all I/O to the RAID card instead of the CPU. Graid says a typical software RAID setup using the CPU can only tap between ten to 20 percent of SSD performance, while using all of the CPU’s power to do so.

Graid’s solution is certainly a unique piece of hardware. The site notes that NVMe SSDs are simply too fast for traditional RAID adapters, and that two PCIe Gen 4 SSDs can saturate a modern RAID controller. Start adding more drives to the array and you hit a bottleneck immediately. Software RAID works, but again, eats up all of a CPU’s cycles and offers lackluster performance. This makes fitting 20-plus SSDs into a server rack an expensive endeavor. Not to mention you’d have performance that’s less than optimal. The SR-1010 will be available on May 1 but pricing wasn’t released. Based on the specs, it’s probably one of those “if you have to ask” scenarios.

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