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Western Digital goes all in on Zoned Storage to face zettabyte era

13 Jun 2019
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Western Digital today launched Zoned Storage to focus on enabling purpose-built, open and scalable data centre architectures. 

This initiative brings together new innovations and industry standards for cloud and hyperscale data centre architects. 

As we approach the zettabyte-scale era, Zoned Storage allows users to design efficient storage tiers that help maintain competitive TCO and achieve greater economies of scale.

According to IDC, by 2023 and beyond, enterprises, machines, industries, consumers, science and more will be generating 103 zettabytes per year. 

For this next-generation of data, new data centre constructs such as composable disaggregated infrastructure are needed as today’s general-purpose architectures are inefficient and can carry resource and cost overhead when faced with an increasing span of workloads, applications and datasets. 

As more and more of this data will be sequential in nature – video, IoT/edge data, surveillance, or data that can be grouped or “zoned” into larger chunks such as large AI/ML datasets – there are opportunities to organise workloads for better performance and efficiencies with lower TCO by accelerating the adoption of zoned storage devices.

The Zoned Storage architecture enables applications, host and storage to orchestrate data placement and take full advantage of the highest available storage capacities, typically with shingled magnetic recording (SMR) HDDs and the emerging zoned namespaces (ZNS) standard for NVMe SSDs to deliver better endurance and predictable, low-latency QoS performance. 

A planned extension of the NVMe standard, ZNS complements SMR technology, enabling developers to take advantage of both SMR and ZNS under a single storage stack, regardless of media type. 

With 50% of Western Digital’s HDD exabyte shipments expected to be on SMR by 2023, customers will be able to leverage their SMR application development to encompass high-capacity ZNS SSDs. 

Western Digital is also announcing its ZNS development SSD for early Zoned Storage efforts. ZNS NVMe SSDs offer several benefits over traditional NVMe SSDs.

Conforming to the ZNS feature set, as defined and governed by NVM Express, these ZNS SSDs are designed to lower write amplification, increase capacity, and provide improved throughput and latency. ZNS SSDs achieve these improvements by aligning “zones” to the internal physical properties of the SSDs, eliminating inefficiencies in the placement of data.

The company has also launched ZonedStorage.io, aimed to jump-start application development initiatives within the developer community as well as help data centre infrastructure engineers take advantage of Zoned Storage technologies. 

The site hosts information about software development libraries, tools, ZNS information, SMR resources and reference architectures that provide a unified framework to manage purpose-built ZNS SSDs and capacity-optimised SMR HDDs.