Grade Technology has released the latest version of its NVMe RAID solution and it is a shiny one. Instead of using a simple hardware RAID controller, it uses a GPU for heavy lifting. The goal is to keep the NVMe drive at the highest level of performance. Apparently, that’s exactly what it could do.
The product is called SupremeRAID SR-1010, and is a hardware RAID controller for NVMe and NVMeof (NVMe over fiber) storage. It was billed as a solution “designed to provide the full potential of the PCIe Gen4 system.” It does this by using an Nvidia RTX A2000 GPU instead of a standard RAID controller. This gives it far more computational power than software RAID or other hardware solutions. The grade claims that it can hit speeds up to 110GB / s for a 512K sequential text with 22GB / s writing. For comparison, it says “high-end hardware RAID” can add a read speed of 13.5GB / s with only 4GB / s of text. It can achieve 19 million 4K random read IOPS compared to 3.5 million from other devices. The card runs on a PCIe Gen 4 X16 interface and supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10 on 32 NVMe SSDs. It supports Linux and Windows, but only Windows Server 2019 and 2022. You can check out the storage review that took it out of the anti-static bag below.
This is an upgraded version of the previous drive, the SR-1000. The previous model was equipped with aa PCIe Gen 3 interface and Turing GPU. Both PCIe Gen 4 and an Ampere-based A2000 GPU have now been upgraded. This is a 70W professional card with 6GB or 12GB GDDR6 ECC. The main advantage of a GPU-based design is that it is much faster than a traditional hardware RAID controller. It offloads all I / O to the RAID card instead of the CPU. Grade says that a typical software RAID setup using the CPU can tap only ten to 20 percent of SSD performance, while using all the power of the CPU to do so.
The grade solution is of course a unique piece of hardware. The site notes that NVMe SSDs are too fast for conventional RAID adapters, and two PCIe Gen 4 SSDs can complement a modern RAID controller. Start adding more drives to the array and you immediately encounter an obstacle. Software RAID works, but again, consumes all the cycles of a CPU and provides poor performance. This makes it a costly endeavor to fit a 20-plus SSD on a server rack. Not to mention that your performance will be less than optimal. The SR-1010 will be available on May 1 but the price has not been disclosed. Based on the specs, this is probably one of those “if you have to ask” situations.