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Project Denali: Microsoft’s New Flexible Cloud SSD Storage

Microsoft Project Denail = Flast Storage Diagram

Microsoft at the Open Compute Project (OCP) U.S. Summit 2018 in San Jose on Tuesday, announced its next generation specification for solid state device (SSD) storage, called “Project Denali”.

Also, the company discussed about “Project Cerberus,” which provides a critical component for security protection that to date has been missing from server hardware: protection, detection and recovery from attacks on platform firmware.

Both storage and security are the next frontiers for hardware innovation, and today we’re highlighting the latest advancements across these key focus areas to further the industry in enabling the future of the cloud.

New Standard for Cloud SSD Storage

Storage paradigms have performed well on-premises, but they haven’t resulted in innovation for increasing performance and cost efficiencies needed for cloud-based models. For this reason,

Project Denali is a new standard for flash storage specifically targeted for cloud-based workloads and let customers achieve greater levels of performance, while leveraging the cost-reduction economics that come at cloud scale.

Fundamentally, “it standardizes the SSD firmware interfaces by disaggregating the functionality for software defined data layout and media management,” Microsoft wrote.

As Microsoft expalins with Project Denali, “Media management, error correction, mapping of bad blocks and other functionality specific to the flash generation stays on the device while the host receives random writes, transmits streams of sequential writes, maintains the address map, and performs garbage collection.”

Denali allows for support of FPGAs or microcontrollers on the host side.

Here is an screenshot of the Flash storage diagram:

Microsoft goes on to say, that throughout the development it has focused on the following four goals:

  • Flexible architecture for innovation agility: Workload-specific optimizations, FTL managed as cloud services component
  • Rapid enablement of new NAND generations: NAND follows Moore’s Law; SSDs: hours to precondition, hundreds of workloads
  • Support a broad set of applications on massively shared devices: Azure (>600 services), Bing, Exchange, O365, others; up to hundreds of users per drive
  • Scale requires multi-vendor support & supply chain diversity: Azure operates in 38 regions globally, more than any other cloud provider

Project Denali is developing in conjunction with CNEX Labs with other supporting partners, include Marvell, Broadcom, Intel, LiteOn, Samsung and SK Hynix.

Microsoft expects to finalize the Project Denali standard in the coming months and also it intend to make it broadly available to the industry later this year.

More technical details about Denali are in this post.

Microsoft officials said they expect to finalize the Denali spec in the coming months and make it broadly available later this year. More technical details about Denali are in this post.

Microsoft also noted, that its another Open Compute contribution “Project Cerberus” has been developed with the intent of creating an open industry standard for platform security and is moving forward.

Introduced late last year, Project Cerberus enables robust pre-boot, boot-time and runtime integrity for all the firmware components in the system. As it consists of a cryptographic microcontroller that run secure code which intercepts accesses from the host to flash over the SPI bus (where firmware is stored), so it can continuously measure and attest these accesses to ensure firmware integrity and hence protect against unauthorized access and malicious updates.

Project Cerberus helps defend platform firmware from:

  • Malicious insiders with administrative privilege or access to hardware
  • Hackers and malware that exploit bugs in the operating system, application, or hypervisor
  • Supply chain attacks (manufacturing, assembly, in-transit)
  • Compromised firmware binaries

Microsoft last year described

Project Cerberus is described by Microsoft as the next phase of the datacenter server design Project Olympus, which it deploys in Azure with its Fv2 virtual machine family. “Since 2015, we’ve been sharing the server and datacenter designs that power Microsoft Azure with the OCP community, working to empower the industry to take advantage of innovations that improve datacenter performance, efficiency, and power consumption, ” Microsoft wrote.

Project Olympus hardware is commercially available from various OCP solution providers, including Wiwynn and ZT Systems.

For more deeper technical information on Project Denali and Cerberus, you can follow this link.

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