Silicon Valley Startup Introduces AI Cores Into Its SSD Controller Portfolio

Time:  2019-08-11 Source:  Electronics Point

InnoGrit, a California-based manufacturer of integrated circuits and systems, has introduced a set of three AI controllers for solid-state drives, including one for data centers embedding a neural network accelerator.

InnoGrit''s timing is impeccable, given that NAND flash prices are beginning to bottom out, InnoGrit''s range of AI-powered SSDs couldn''t have appeared on the market at a better time. In data centers, SSD adoption is "happening fast, especially with last year''s price drops" said InnoGrit founder and former Marvell CTO, Zining Wu. 

It’s likely that data centers and equipment manufacturers will take advantage of these lower prices and continue the already hasty adoption of SSDs in a bid to switch over from traditional hard drives for the power, performance, and size advantages. 


Who is InnoGrit?

Founded by Zining Wu, former Marvell CTO, and other storage industry heavyweights in 2016, InnoGrit was founded to develop storage technologies that support AI and big data through integrated circuit and system solutions.


InnoGrit''s AI Core SSDs

InnoGrit plan to break into the enterprise-level storage market eventually, however, for now, they are starting on a smaller scale with their DRAMless SSD controller, the "Shasta". This controller will eventually be followed up with a plus model for the Shasta ("Shasta+") and two larger controllers, "Rainier" and "Tacoma" with more advanced features. 

The Shasta and Shasta+ models are low-cost solutions for the client SSD market whereas the Rainier and Tacoma models are far more advanced and are being directed towards higher-end clients and basic data centers.


The InnoGrit Shasta Controller. Image courtesy of InnoGrit Corp.


Using a 16 NAND channel count, the Tacoma is InnoGrit''s most powerful controller and supports a capacity up to 32TB. It features sequential I/O performance, virtualization capabilities, and a low-latency mode. This is all delivered using a four PCI Gen4 interface. 

This combination allows InnoGrit''s SSDs to do "intelligent processing such as data labeling, using the toolchain offered by Nvidia, or some savvy customers will put in their own firmware", said Wu.


Why These SSDs Are Good News 

InnoGrit''s fabless IC designs deliver low power, high-performance fully turn-key storage solutions. These solutions allow business across all industries to extract more value from their investments into next-gen applications whilst simultaneously reducing their overall capital expenses.

“The last few years have seen the maturation of multiple next-generation applications that hold great promise for businesses of all sizes, in every market sector. To date, however, this great promise hasn’t translated into operational success for many organizations because they lack the data storage and transport capabilities required to properly fuel the applications they’ve deployed…"

InnoGrit''s entire business model relies on overcoming these problems through the development of storage solutions with ICs that are capable of coping with the challenges of AI and big data by putting AI at their SSDs'' core. 

Other flash storage systems are inherently limited by contemporary data processing architectures; InnoGrit''s goal is to unlock these systems'' potential through innovations in efficiency, security, and reliability, and their Shasta, Rainier, and Tacoma families, aimed at enterprise and data center clients, do just that.