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Western Digital welcomes in zettabyte-scale era with Zoned Storage

Western Digital has launched Zoned Storage, an initiative focused on building open and scalable data centre architectures as we move into the zettabyte-scale era.

The new initiative combines different resources and industry standards for cloud and hyperscale data centre architects to better enable the design of successful storage tiers that help maintain competitive TCO and are able to hyperscale.

The Zoned Storage architecture enables users to take full advantage of the highest available storage capacities within shingled magnetic recording (SMR) HDDs and zoned namespaces (ZNS) standard for NVMe SSDs. This results in better sustainability and low-latency QoS performance.

The initiative includes an extension of the NVMe standard, ZNS complements SMR technology, so developers can take advantage of both SMR and ZNS under a single storage stack, despite media type.

According to Western Digital, 50% of customer’s HDD exabyte shipments are expected to be on SMR by 2023.

These customers will be able to leverage their SMR application development to encompass high-capacity ZNS SSDs, the company says. This is significant as SMR and ZNS will be key foundational building blocks of the new zettabyte-scale era.

In fact, according to IDC, by 2023 and beyond, enterprises, machines, industries, consumers, science and more will be generating 103 zettabytes per year.

As such, new data centre constructs, including composable disaggregated infrastructure, are needed to cope with increasing workloads, applications and datasets.

Furthermore, because more of this data will be sequential, i.e. video, IoT/edge data, surveillance, or data that can be grouped or ‘zoned’ into larger chunks such as large AI/ML datasets, workloads can be better organised and zoned storage devices can help to improve performance and efficiencies with lower TCO.

IDC group vice president of infrastructure systems, platforms and technologies, Ashish Nadkarni, says, “There’s no doubt that the industry needs to come together and find new and creative ways to design and architect infrastructures for the future to more intelligently and efficiently optimise workloads, and storage and compute infrastructure.”

“With total HDD and SSD revenue expected to reach 27% of total IT infrastructure spend by 2022, we see SMR, SSDs and ZNS together as a standout opportunity for cloud and hyperscale data centre customers to optimise infrastructure for better cost economies at scale.

“Unifying the ZNS and SMR architectures via open, standards-based initiatives is a logical industry step, which can take advantage of SMR HDD areal density gains and new innovations in Flash. Whoever enters the market first, will definitely have a competitive advantage on TCO and the learning curve,” says Nadkarni.

A breakdown of the Zoned Storage initiative

Western Digital’s new Zoned Storage initiative includes areal density features with SMR as well as ZNS NVMe SSDs, as well as a new ZonedStorage.io community site with open source tools and libraries.

As SMR adoption continues to grow, Western Digital is focused on delivering high capacities with energy assist recording technologies. Today, the company’s 15TB Ultrastar DC HC620 SMR HDDs are shipping.

Western Digital is also developing ZNS SSD for early Zoned Storage efforts. Conforming to the ZNS feature set, as defined and governed by NVM Express, these ZNS SSDs are designed to lower write amplification, increase capacity, and provide improved throughput and latency.

ZNS SSDs achieve these improvements by aligning ‘zones’ to the internal physical properties of the SSDs, eliminating inefficiencies in the placement of data.

ZonedStorage.io enables Western Digital to work with the open-source community, customers and industry players.

It has been created to help advance application development initiatives within the developer community as well as help data centre infrastructure engineers take advantage of Zoned Storage technologies.

The site includes information about software development libraries, tools, ZNS information, SMR resources and reference architectures that provide a unified framework to manage purpose-built ZNS SSDs and capacity-optimized SMR HDDs.

In addition to the ZonedStorage.io site, Western Digital is now offering the Ultrastar ZNS NVMe development SSD and the Ultrastar DC HC620 15TB SMR HDD.

The 15TB Ultrastar DC HC620 is currently available and shipping in volume to qualified customers. The Ultrastar ZNS NVMe development SSD is available to select customers.