Networking

Storage startup Pliops aims to boost flash performance

Rivals Intel and Nvidia are on the same side when it comes to the funding of a startup that promises to make flash storage orders of magnitude faster.

The two are among numerous investors in Pliops, which is developing a specialized storage processor that it says allows applications to access data kept in flash storage up to 100 times faster than with traditional approaches while using a fraction of the electricity required by traditional hardware.

Pliops has a list of investors that’s hard to ignore. In addition to Intel and Nvidia, the startup’s investors include Xilinx, Western Digital Corp., Viola Ventures, SOMV, SoftBank Ventures Asia, Expon Capital and Sweetwood Capital. Its most recent round of funding, announced last month, totaled $65 million. Founded in 2017, Pliops has raised $115 million in venture funding to date.

The most recent investment will be used to continue development of the Pliops Storage Processor (PSP), a hardware-enabled storage engine on a PCIe card form factor that works with storage class memory (SCM) (Intel’s Optane) and QLC NVMe SSDs to accelerate and protect databases for cloud and enterprise applications.

The PSP targets databases for an inherent inefficiency. Both relational and NoSQL databases today use “key-value” (KV) storage engines: The data is indexed by “keys” and stored as “values.” KV engines typically enable variable-sized keys and values, which can be problematic with high IOPS SSDs because you are dealing with variable-sized data on devices with a fixed block size. That means lots of compression and lots of disk writes.

Flash’s performance and endurance, meanwhile, are limited by the number of writes. Flash drives eventually wear out and retain less data the more you write to them. Therefore, you would ideally want to do less compression and a lot less disk writing, which is where the PSP comes in. It does the compression and reduces the number of writes that need to be done.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.


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