Microsoft readies new cloud SSD storage spec for the Open Compute Project

Microsoft's latest planned contribution to the OCP is a new spec for standardizing SSD storage firmware interfaces for use in cloud data centers.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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Microsoft is continuing to submit potential new specifications to the Open Compute Project.

At the Open Compute Project (OCP) US Summit 2018 in San Jose, Calif., Microsoft introduced Project Denali, its spec for standardizing SSD firmware interfaces.

(And, yes, Microsoft codename historians, your eyes don't deceive you. Microsoft is reusing the Denali codename made famous by the SQL Server 2012 team.)

(Image: Microsoft)

Here's Microsoft's explanation of the new Denali:

"Project Denali is a standardization and evolution of Open Channel that defines the roles of SSD vs. that of the host in a standard interface. 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 (field programmable gate arrays) or microcontrollers on the host side."

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

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 another Open Compute contribution is moving forward.

Microsoft introduced Project Cerberus, a standard for a cryptographic microcontroller, late last year. Now Microsoft is "on the verge" of contributing the hardware implementation of Cerberus to the community for collaboration and adoption, officials said today.

Microsoft officials last year described Cerberus as the next phase of Project Olympus, its datacenter server design which the company contributed to the OCP. Microsoft itself deploys Project Olympus hardware in Azure with its Fv2 virtual machine family. Project Olympus hardware is commercially available from various OCP solution providers, including Wiwynn and ZT Systems.

Microsoft joined the Open Compute Project (OCP) in 2014 and is a founding member of and contributor to the organization's Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) project. The OCP publishes open hardware designs intended to be used to build data centers relatively cheaply. The OCP has already released specifications for motherboards, chipsets, cabling, and common sockets, connectors, and open networking and switches.

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