Next-Generation Storage will be built with DPUs instead of CPUs

Time: Wed Sep 14 | 4:35pm - 5:25pm


DPUs (data processing units) are an exciting new category of processor that complement CPUs and GPUs inside data centers. DPUs are fast at data-centric tasks, while they retain the full programmability of CPUs. DPUs have typically been used to offload networking and security functions from compute servers, but have not been used to build storage systems until recently. In this talk, we will briefly introduce DPUs, then highlight the use of DPUs to build storage systems. This is an emerging new use case for DPUs. We argue that full-featured, high performance, future storage systems will be built using DPUs. By examining the special requirements of storage processing, we will show why DPUs are architecturally better suited than CPUs for this task. We will describe the architecture of a DPU-based storage system in some detail. We then make a compelling case for why DPU based storage systems will be superior to storage systems built using general-purpose CPUs (aka Software-defined storage or SDS). Using concrete examples of real implementations of DPU and CPU based storage systems, we will show that DPU based systems can be anywhere from 3x-10x better than SDS on important metrics like cost, performance and power. To build competitive storage systems, vendors will have no choice but to use DPUs to build storage systems. We conclude that future storage systems will be built with DPUs and not general-purpose CPUs, arguably signaling the end of the Software Defined Storage era.

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