At Samsung's Tech Day 2018 they debuted a collaboration with Xilinx to develop Smart SSDs that would combine storage with FPGA-based compute accelerator capabilities. Their proof of concept prototype combining a Samsung SSD and Xilinx FPGA on a PCIe add-in card has evolved into a 4TB U.2 drive that has completed customer qualification and reached general availability.

The Samsung SmartSSD CSD includes all the guts of one of their high-end PCIe Gen3 enterprise SSDs, plus the second-largest FPGA from Xilinx's Kintex Ultrascale+ (16nm) family and 4GB of DDR4 specifically for the FPGA to use. The SmartSSD CSD uses a portion of the FPGA as a PCIe switch, so the FPGA and SSD each appear to the host system as separate PCIe endpoints and all PCIe traffic going to the SSD is first routed through the FPGA.

In a server equipped with dozens of large and fast SSDs, actually trying to make use of all that stored data can lead to bottlenecks with the CPU's IO bandwidth or compute power. Putting compute resources on each SSD means the compute capacity and bandwidth scales with the number of drives. Classic examples of compute tasks to offload onto storage devices are compression and encryption, but reconfigurable FPGA accelerators can help with a much broader range of tasks.  

Xilinx has been building up a library of IP for storage accelerators that customers can use with the SmartSSD CSD, as part of their Vitis libararies of building blocks and and Xilinx Storage Services turnkey solutions. Samsung has worked with Bigstream to implement Apache Spark analytics acceleration. Third party IP that has been developed for Xilinx's Alveo accelerator cards can also be ported to the SmartSSD CSD thanks to the common underlying FPGA platform, so IP like Eideticom's NoLoad CSP are an option.

The Samsung SmartSSD CSD is being manufactured by Samsung and sold by Xilinx, initially with 3.84TB capacity but other sizes are planned.

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  • Tomatotech - Friday, November 13, 2020 - link

    That feeling when a hard drive has more computing power than every computer you own ... Reply
  • silverj42 - Friday, November 13, 2020 - link

    Link to buy one, please? Reply
  • PeachNCream - Friday, November 13, 2020 - link

    Thinking this would be a great place for bored systems administrators to hide low end gaming hardware on corporate servers. One more thing we have to figure out how to monitor and secure also so its certainly a risk-vs-reward critter. Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, November 16, 2020 - link

    It would be so, so much cheaper (and faster) just to throw a GPU in there and come up with an ad-hoc rationalisation for it. Reply
  • Rοb - Friday, November 13, 2020 - link

    Here are the product links: https://samsungsemiconductor-us.com/smartssd/ --- https://www.xilinx.com/applications/data-center/co... --- https://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Xilinx/XCKU15...

    There's a "How to buy" link, but it presumes that you know "how to use" (you would want to have experience programming FPGAs). 4TB seems to be a rather tiny offering, but there are already Cloud Services that you can test out these drives.

    There are a lot of use cases listed on the above links, but if you can't justify U$7K for a very smart 4TB of storage this wasn't made for you; try the Cloud Services already setup.
    Reply
  • silverj42 - Friday, November 13, 2020 - link

    So 6k euros for 1.1M LE + 4GB ram + 4TB storage. Quite expensive. The NiteFury I am using now was 300 euros for 200k LE + 512MB ram. Perhaps this is worth it, actually. Thank you for the mouser link! Reply
  • TomWomack - Saturday, November 14, 2020 - link

    The Mouser link is for a single FPGA chip rather than for the whole SmartSSD device discussed here. Reply
  • silverj42 - Saturday, November 14, 2020 - link

    Oh, thank you. Saved me that 6k :-) Reply
  • silverj42 - Friday, November 13, 2020 - link

    > There are a lot of use cases listed on the above links, but if you can't justify U$7K for a very smart 4TB of storage this wasn't made for you; try the Cloud Services already setup.

    I read this as someone is already renting a cloud instance with one of these installed. As you seem to conjure up links I could not find, is there a link for this service as well? Does Hetzner have these or ?
    Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Friday, November 13, 2020 - link

    Nimbix has a page up about having SmartSSDs in their public cloud, but it doesn't appear they've added that option to their price calculator: https://www.nimbix.net/samsungsmartssd Reply

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