September 30th, 2020            Click here to download the PDF file


VersaPLX: Breakthrough Storage Server for Enterprise
and Private Cloud Applications

In our June 2020 newsletter article "The Arrival of the Server SAN Era," we mentioned that advanced server storage (Server SAN) uses cloud-based storage technologies to combine storage networks and dedicated storage servers. The key advantage: it eliminates many of the functional limitations of traditional storage networks and storage controllers by running most storage services and management software on powerful and more flexible servers. This not only reduces the complexity of traditional storage networks but also brings the flexibility, scalability, and cost advantages of cloud storage.

Loxoll’s VersaPLX is a dedicated Server SAN storage server powered by ARM64 architecture. The system transparently delivers data services from multi-protocol host systems to multi-protocol storage systems. The system, which is actually an appliance, provides data gateway service in single-device configuration to transform any backend storage to more flexible SAN storage; while multiple VersaPLX devices clustered together communicate via 10GE or other high-speed connections to provide networked storage (Server SAN), for performance scaling and high availability, i.e., scale-out storage suitable for enterprise and private cloud storage.

Here are a few highlights:

Dedicated Server Advantages for Storage Applications

A dedicated (or "functional") server is a server designed and optimized specifically for one or several application functions. Because only a limited number of functional applications are needed, the server can be architecturally simplified while focusing on optimized design for specific functions. By comparison, a general-purpose server must provide a much wider range of functions, which reduces efficiency and adds to system costs. Most servers on the market are currently general-purpose servers. VersaPLX is a dedicated server specially designed and optimized for storage. It uses ARMv8 CPU, 64GB memory configuration, multiple PCIe buses, multiple network and storage interfaces, and appropriate kernel software. It is cheaper than an above-average computer, while offering stability and price-performance ratio significantly better than general-purpose servers.

X86 vs. ARM CPU

VersaPLX uses an ARM CPU. Why choose ARM architecture instead of the widely-used X86 architecture? The answers lie in the performance, controllability of the ARM architecture, and freedom from costly conformance with the Intel computing ecology.

ARM, which stands for Advanced RISC Machine, is an advanced reduced instruction set machine. It is one branch of Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) microprocessors, and has been used widely for many years in embedded system designs. Compared with the X86 architecture, which uses a complex, general-purpose instruction set; ARM uses a pipelined RISC instruction set, which is more effective in applications with relatively fixed tasks. As a result, for many application-specific compute tasks, ARM price/performance advantages can be very significant.

VersaPLX is a dedicated server specially designed and highly optimized for a more limited domain of storage control tasks. Because VersaPLX is tasked only with storage services, much of its task to move and store large volumes of data can be done without need for complex computing algorithms. As a result, ARM's simple and direct architecture makes it more effective and stable than X86 in storage control, while consuming less power and offering higher cost-performance ratio.

Because the X86 architecture has been around for many years, the X86-based platform provides a development environment that is more mature than the ARM-based platform. However, this “advantage” comes at the price of being bound to the Intel platform and accepting Intel's technical and business model control. Unlike Intel, who controls pricing and distribution of its processors, the ARM architecture adopts a licensing model, which has been widely accepted by many collaborators and competitors of Intel. By using ARM architecture, VersaPLX can be delivered without limitation of X86’s technical disadvantages for application-specific areas like storage and price/performance limitations and rules..

We believe specialization provides a major advantage in storage. Loxoll's R&D team has worked in the storage field for many years and has a proven foundation of independent research and development. In recent years, the development of storage services on the ARM architecture has delivered real benefits. Consequently, VersaPLX can provide customers with customized storage management software, eliminating the shackles of the X86 market umbrella, while reducing enterprise operating costs.

10GE Optical Port vs. Electrical Port


10GE electrical ports have been widely used in 10 Gigabit Ethernet, integrated in switches, network cards and other products. What advantages does a 10GE electrical port have over the optical port? Here’s a comparison:


The advantage of the 10G electrical port is that at the same 10G transmission rate, it can be directly used in the existing copper cabling system to reduce the cabling cost, and there is no need to add additional equipment such as Ethernet switches or optical-electrical converters. The deployment of copper cables with electrical ports can save up to 99 percent of the cost compared with the deployment of optical ports with optical fibers.

VersaPLX comes equipped with six 10GE electrical ports. After installing VersaPLX, users can directly use the existing copper cable wiring, and there is no need to add additional fiber optic equipment, which greatly reduces the cost of deploying new solutions for enterprises.

SAS vs. PCIe External Interface

PCI-Express (PCIe) is the third-generation I/O bus after ISA and PCI bus, that is, 3GIO. Its main advantages are its high data transmission rate, as well as its high interference resilience, long transmission distance, and low power consumption.

VersaPLX is equipped with 4 PCIe 3.0 x4 external interfaces, the maximum throughput of each interface is 4GB/s, replacing the SAS interface of up to 2GB/s, can be directly docked with PCIe RAID; with VersaPLX's 6 10GE interfaces, it can provide single-node performance of up to 6000MB/s, which fully meets the performance required of the data centers.

The PCIe external interface can also be used as an Inter-Node Link. With our unique PCIe Switch, it is comparable to InfiniBand in the high-end market, which greatly increases the transmission volume while reducing latency and cost. It is one of our independently developed patented technologies.

VersaPLX Solution

Storage servers based on general-purpose X86 servers and software-defined-storage software have dominated the SAN market for decades. At Loxoll, we believe price-performance, reliability inherent to simpler design, and freedom from the technical and business dictates of the X86 market make VersaPLX Server SAN the next-generation choice for storage. If you’re looking to benefit from a new paradigm in storage, be sure to check out VersaPLX’s novel ARM architecture, innovative technologies, and comprehensive service offerings. Interested readers can learn more about the VersaPLX product by visiting the following links:

Loxoll website: http://www.loxoll.com/web/versaPLX.html

Accusys website: http://www.accusys.com.tw/VersaRAID/

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