By Neil Werdmuller, director of storage solutions at Arm
September 03, 2020 -- There is expected to be more than 79 zettabytes of IoT data in 2025, but the real value of this data is found in the insights it generates. The closer to the data source we can produce these insights the better, because of the improved security, latency and energy efficiency enabled. Computational storage is emerging as a critical piece of the data storage puzzle because it puts processing power directly on the storage device, giving companies secure, quick and easy access to vital information.
Our expertise and legacy in storage puts Arm in a strong position to address the changing needs of this market – with around 85% of hard disk drive controllers and solid-state drive controllers based on Arm, we are already a trusted partner for billions of storage devices. Today, we’re announcing Arm Cortex-R82, our first 64-bit, Linux-capable Cortex-R processor designed to accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation enterprise and computational storage solutions.
Generating insight where data is stored
For processing to take place closer to the data, we needed to deliver higher performance. The new Arm Cortex-R82 provides up to 2x performance uplift, depending on the workload, compared to previous Cortex-R generations. This will allow storage applications to run new workloads like machine learning at a lower latency, with optional Arm Neon technology to provide additional acceleration. Cortex-R82 is 64-bit, providing access of up to 1TB of DRAM for advanced data processing in storage applications.
Storage controllers traditionally run bare-metal/RTOS workloads to store and access data, however Cortex-R82 introduces an optional memory management unit (MMU) to allow for rich operating systems to run directly on the storage controller, creating the opportunity for new and improved applications that will benefit both consumers and businesses.
Creating value across a range of applications
Processing data where it is stored opens huge opportunities across applications including IoT, ML and edge computing. This is critical in the storage use cases you might expect, such as database acceleration, meaning no movement of large files and increased security and privacy, and video transcoding where data can be efficiently transcoded or encoded for streaming, adapting different bit rates and resolutions as necessary. But it’s also increasingly important for applications such as transportation – for example, modern airplanes generate terabytes of data a day that is usually offloaded for analysis. Computational storage offers airlines real-time analysis of this data on the drive, so when a plane lands, they can ensure it’s safe for the next flight in 30 minutes or less, enabling faster turnaround and better safety for passengers.
Flexibility is the name of the game
As the storage market evolves, one of the biggest requirements we’ve seen from our partners is flexibility. The new features of the Cortex-R82 processor give partners the possibility to design multi-core implementations of up to 8 cores, and adjust the types of workload running on the storage controller based on external demands in software. For example, parking lots will regularly use video surveillance to recognize license plate information which is later used for billing. During the day vehicle registration plate data is collected, meaning most cores are being used for intensive storage. At night, these cores will be used to process the data for billing and will adjust to carry out the data analysis and machine learning needed. As storage controllers are becoming more diverse to address different markets and features, Cortex-R82 delivers an architecture to provide this extreme flexibility – reducing costs and time to market.
Enabling a faster start for developers
In order to develop the SoCs needed for these future use cases, our partners need access to easy and cost-effective technology – and perhaps more importantly, they need to know that the software just works. We are always looking at ways to reduce complexity and cost for our partners, which is why we ensured Cortex-R82 could leverage the power of the Arm Linux and server ecosystems. The ability to run Linux gives developers a whole new set of software tools and technologies, such as Docker and Kubernetes, to use for their storage applications, providing an accelerated method of implementation. The Cortex-R82 also takes advantage of Arm’s security foundations and is compatible with Arm TrustZone, ensuring isolation of the storage controller firmware from other Linux or real-time workloads.
Arm designed Cortex-R82 because in a world of billions of connected devices, data processing can no longer only happen in the cloud. Cortex-R82 will help to ensure companies can generate insights and extract the most value out of their future IoT deployments more efficiently and securely.
Arm technology is at the heart of a computing and data revolution that is transforming the way people live and businesses operate. Our advanced, energy-efficient processor designs have enabled intelligent computing in more than 170 billion chips and our technologies now securely power products from the sensor to the smartphone and the supercomputer. In combination with our IoT device, connectivity and data management platform, we are also enabling customers with powerful and actionable business insights that are generating new value from their connected devices and data. Together with 1,000+ technology partners we are at the forefront of designing, securing and managing all areas of compute from the chip to the cloud.