What is xiRAID

xiRAID is the world’s first and fastest software RAID for the new generation of storage, that not only protects your directly attached flash drives, but also those connected via NVMe-oF™. Learn more why xiRAID performance is superior to any hardware RAID controller, and the level of reliability is even greater.

High-performance software RAID

Software raid instead of hardware controller

Using xiRAID instead of a traditional hardware RAID controller gives our customers additional storage performance, better TCO and simpler system maintenance.

  • 1Much faster than hardware RAID controllers
  • 2Independent from hardware upgrades and modifications
  • 3Simple migration between storage systems
  • 4Saves one PCIe slot (for even more NVMe drives or extra connectivity)
  • 5Unlimited product lifetime
  • 6Immune to physical damage
  • 7Works with NVMe-oF™ devices

Our features

High Performance

  • 150 GB/s and 30 000 000 IO/s
  • Latency below 0.5ms
  • No performance penalty in mixed I/O workloads
  • Low performance hit in degraded RAID state

Usability and compatibility

  • Wide range of RAID levels:
    0/1/10/5/6/7.3/50/60/70
  • Works with local and remote (NVMe-oF™) drives
  • Clients access RAID array as a local block device
  • POSIX API support: no need to change applications or file systems

Lightweight

  • Less than 10% CPU usage under maximum workload
  • Low system memory footprint: less than 4 GB of DRAM required for optimal performance

The challenge

New storage technologies pose a challenge to data protection

NVMe can no longer be considered a new technology – it’s been here for almost a decade and the past few years saw an ever-increasing adoption rate for NVMe storage devices both in the consumer and enterprise markets. Legacy SAS and especially SATA protocols are becoming bottlenecks for SSDs, and a transition to a faster, more efficient storage technology has very compelling TCO and performance benefits.

Composable Disaggregated Infrastructure (CDI) approach is also rapidly emerging, bringing the abstraction of compute, storage, and networking resources from their physical locations. All of these lead us to a new world where we need new approaches for performance and data protection.

However, moving from such a well-known technology and ecosystem like SATA and SAS that have been with us since 1970’s, is not easy. Some market research states “…performance problems associated with storage software inhibit the growth of the market. Furthermore, issues related to data integrity and data protection act as challenges for the growth of the market.”

The solution

Xinnor is positioning the innovative xiRAID as the only software solution on the market today that effectively works with local and networked NVMe devices. With I/O handling parallelization and lockless datapath, xiRAID arrays have very small RAID penalties and perform very close to the raw hardware capabilities. xiRAID is purpose-built for new types of flash drives, with a strong attention to their architecture and datapath features. It is a lightweight software module with low CPU and RAM usage.

xiRAID works with block devices – local or remote, using any transport – PCIe, NVMe-oF or SPDK target, by Fibre channel or InfiniBand. And it provides a local block device to the system.

xiRAID solution

Performance comparison

Workload on RAID5 xiRAID GPU Hardware RAID High-end Hardware RAID
4k Random Read 65M IOps 28M IOps 3.5M IOps
4k Random Write 8M IOps 2M IOps 180K IOps
512k Sequential Read 310 GB/s 260 GB/s 13.5 GB/s
512k Sequential Write 144.5 GB/s 100 GB/s 4 GB/s

Raid options for NVMe

Compared to the rich ecosystem of SATA and SAS RAID options, working with NVMe is not so straightforward. First, there are hardware RAID adapters that can RAID NVMe devices as well as SAS/SATA. These cards are fast enough for 4 drives directly attached, but for more they have to rely on PCIe switches with added performance hit due to PCIe lane oversubscription. They add hardware cost, another layer of complexity between the CPU and drives, and have performance limitations due to SoC capabilities (1.8M IOPS per card).

Software RAID offers high flexibility, zero associated hardware costs and vendor-agnosticism in terms of compatibility. It’s worth noticing that software RAID is currently the only option to support the new class of NVMe-oF JBOF (EBOF) devices for disaggregated storage in the CDI world.

Raid options for NVMe

Our product based on several performance principles:

  • 1We have our own patented RAID calculation engine, based on a decade of math research and in-depth knowledge of CPU operation.
  • 2Lockless datapath, no spinlocks, no scheduling, no memory copy.
  • 3For fastest RAID we designed a new calculation engine, which is fast and simple. It uses only one simple vector operation and has less data move operations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is software RAID reliable?

Software RAID is highly reliable when implemented correctly. Modern software RAID solutions such as xiRAID offer robust features and functionalities that ensure data integrity, fault tolerance, and high availability. Additionally, software RAID can often be more flexible and cost-effective compared to hardware RAID solutions. With proper configuration and maintenance, software RAID can provide dependable storage solutions for various applications and environments.

The choice between hardware RAID and software RAID depends on your specific needs. While hardware RAID offers cross-OS compatibility and reliable performance for HDDs and most SATA/SAS SSD configurations, software RAID stands out for its flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and ability to work with a variety of hardware setups.

Software RAID is hardware-agnostic, offers numerous free options, and can be easily updated with new features. Additionally, it's well-suited for networked storage environments and allows for combining drives of different sizes and interfaces. For most users, especially those considering NVMe configurations or looking for cost-effective solutions, software RAID presents a compelling choice. Explore more about hardware RAID and software RAID comparison in our blog post: Software RAID or hardware RAID: what's better in 2024.

Software RAID and erasure coding both aim to protect data and improve storage efficiency, but they differ in historical development and implementation.

Software RAID, dating back to the 1980s, utilizes specific erasure codes like parity coding to distribute data across drives and enable recovery from drive failures. Various RAID configurations, such as RAID 5 and RAID 6, leverage erasure coding for data protection.

Erasure coding, popularized in recent years with cloud computing, divides data blocks across multiple drives and distributes parity blocks for recovery from drive failures.

Despite nuanced differences, both technologies fundamentally serve the same purpose of data protection and storage efficiency. For more insights, read: RAID vs. Erasure Coding. What’s the Difference?

Choosing the appropriate RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) level for your infrastructure involves considering factors such as performance, fault tolerance, and cost. Each RAID level offers a different balance of these factors. For example, RAID 0 enhances performance through data striping but lacks redundancy, while RAID 1 provides mirroring for high fault tolerance. RAID 5 and RAID 6 use parity data to balance performance and redundancy. The right choice depends on your specific needs, application requirements, and budget constraints.

For a detailed guide on selecting the ideal RAID level for your infrastructure, explore our blog post: RAID Levels Explained. This blog post breaks down each RAID level, offering insights into their strengths, weaknesses, and optimal use cases to help you make an informed decision tailored to your unique circumstances.

Yes, xiRAID is fully compatible with Linux environments.

No, xiRAID currently does not support Windows or Mac but only Linux. Follow us on LinkedIn to stay updated with our future developments.

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