PMC Scales Performance Storage Tier with Industry’s First PCIe Storage Switches and Fastest SSD Controllers

Switchtec PCIe Storage Switches and Flashtec PCIe SSD Controllers Enable End-to-End, Reliable PCIe Deployment in Hyperscale and Enterprise Data Centers

SUNNYVALE, Calif. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — August 10, 2015 — PMC-Sierra, Inc. (PMC®) (Nasdaq: PMCS), the semiconductor and software solutions innovator transforming networks that connect, move and store big data, today announced the industry’s first PCI Express® (PCIe®) storage switches and the world’s fastest solid-state drive (SSD) controllers. SSDs designed with PMC’s second-generation Flashtec™ NVMe™ Controllers can deliver one million IOPS and greater than 20TB of flash capacity. Systems connecting a pool of these high-performance, low-latency drives require a new class of PCIe switching solutions with robust storage features. PMC Switchtec™ PSX PCIe Storage Switches enable PCIe-SSD-based systems to scale, with the resiliency, programmability and advanced diagnostics needed for mass deployment. Together, Switchtec PCIe storage switches and Flashtec PCIe controllers provide an end-to-end solution to reliably scale the next-generation performance tier of storage (see video, figure 1).

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“While working with the industry to enable the first NVMe SSDs, it became clear there was no reliable way to connect and scale many of them in a single enclosure, much like SAS does today,” said Derek Dicker, vice president of the Performance Solutions Group at PMC. “In partnership with the industry’s most forward-thinking hyperscale and all-flash array customers, PMC created a new PCIe storage switch category with our Switchtec products to deliver the high port count, low power, resilient storage features that the industry needs.”

Hyperscale and enterprise data centers are adopting PCIe because it provides the highest speed and lowest latency connection between SSDs and host processors, giving it a significant performance advantage over SAS and SATA. Independent testing by Demartek shows that a single Flashtec-based PCIe SSD can deliver 2.5 times higher bandwidth than eight SATA SSDs running an OLTP workload in a Microsoft SQL server database (see figure 2). Flashtec controllers also enable more than double the IOPS performance of other PCIe SSDs. However, despite the performance advantages, PCIe SSDs have not been widely deployed in high-density storage environments due to the lack of a storage-grade PCIe switch. Existing PCIe switches do not have the high availability and storage capabilities to attach and scale out SSDs. PMC Switchtec PSX devices solve the scale-out storage challenge, enabling wide-spread PCIe SSD deployment, with 60 percent less power than other switches.

“Data center architectures are increasingly growing their use of PCIe infrastructure, due to its high performance and low latency benefits,” said Bev Crair, VP & GM Intel Storage Group, Intel Corporation. “The PCIe switching investment by PMC will help strengthen the ecosystem and drive broader deployment of PCIe storage solutions.”

Intel helped spearhead creation of PCI Express to provide a low-latency, high-speed bus to the CPU for peripheral expansion and co-founded the NVMe storage interface specification to further enable the ecosystem for direct-attached PCIe SSDs.

Industry’s First Enterprise PCIe Storage Switch

PMC Switchtec PSX storage switches are engineered to scale PCIe flash in high-performance storage systems, with enterprise-class resiliency and the industry’s lowest power. Systems built with Switchtec PSX consume up to 60 percent less power than those using other PCIe switches, enabling a savings of nearly 1000 Watts per rack. Systems also require 75 percent fewer devices than other switches in a typical flash array, allowing system designers to increase flash density, lower bill of materials costs, and improve the mean time before failure for higher reliability (see figure 3). The Switchtec PSX family comprises switches from 24 lanes to 96 lanes, providing:

  • The most flexible port bifurcation in the industry, from x2 to x16 lanes per port;
  • The highest port and Non-Transparent Bridge (NTB) density, with up to 48 ports and 48 NTBs;
  • The highest switch partition density, with up to 24 for efficient use of system resources;
  • Advanced error containment and surprise-plug and unplug support to prevent system crashes;
  • The industry’s first integrated programmable processor, enabling customers to use the PSX Software Development Kit to enhance PCIe switch functionality and error handling;
  • The industry’s first integrated Enclosure Management solution, simplifying software development and improving time-to-market;
  • Advanced diagnostics and debug features to identify, diagnose and fix problems;
  • PMC’s 5th generation SERDES for low-power, best-in-class signal integrity; and
  • SRIS for cabled PCIe and lower cost system designs.

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