Fujitsu aims to develop a platform for scale-out massive storage based on standard servers with PCIe-linked flash cards, ZDNet UK understands.
Fujitsu Technology Solutions' chief technology officer, Joseph Reger, hinted at the plans on Wednesday when asked by ZDNet UK about the company's plans for using basic servers to take on some of the tasks commonly handled by networking equipment with custom silicon.
"I cannot preannounce anything," Reger said, but "one very attractive area that is becoming pressing is the area of scale-out massive storage and that has exactly the same question at heart."
Fujitsu could be considering the use of PCIe-linked flash cards to provide the fast I/O layer needed for caching and forwarding data between the storage nodes — this technique has already been adopted by competitors such as Dell and EMC.
"The nodes can be normal servers, well, almost normal servers," Reger said. "One has to do something about how they are hooked up and connected and the fabric and what kind of protocol it runs and indeed what are the controllers."
The company will probably use storage controllers based around standard x86 chips rather than the custom application-specific integrated circuits or field-programmable gate arrays used in other controller designs, he said.
"For quite a long time now controllers have been built on specialised hardware, but the one issue of that is it is not easily programmable, it is now becoming a very interesting question."
LSI, whose RAID controllers and PCIe-linked flash cards use standard x86 processors from Intel, was also at the show. On Tuesday its director of channel sales, Thomas Pavel, admitted to ZDNet UK that its technology is behind Dell's recently announced SSD-based caching and storage solutions which are set to go into a scale-out storage platform expected to be announced in June.
Fujitsu and LSI have a seven-year technology relationship, with the company's RAID controllers already present in Fujitsu's products, Pavel said.