Part 2 …The Drive
Over time, the smarts in storage have migrated back and forth between the drive and the host system. Behind this shifting picture are two key factors. First, the intelligence of a micro-controller chip determines what a drive can do, while secondly, the need to correct media errors establishes what a drive must do.
Once SCSI hit the market, the functionality split between host and drive essentially froze and continued so for nearly 3 decades. The advent of new error-correction needs for SSDs, combined with the arrival of ARM CPUs that are both cheap and powerful, making function-shifting once again interesting.
Certainly, some of the new compute power goes to sophisticated multi-tier error correction to compensate for the wear out of QLC drives or the effects of media variations, but a 4-core or 8-core
ARM still has a lot of unused capability. We’ve struggled to figure out how to use that power for meaningful storage functions and that’s led to a number of early initiatives.
The first to bat was Seagate’s Kinetic drive. Making a play for storing “Big Data” in a more native form, Kinetic adds a key/data store to its interface, replacing the traditional block access altogether. While the Kinetic interface is an open standard and free to emulate, no other vendor has yet jumped on the bandwagon and Seagate’s sales are small.