CNEX Labs Partners with Microsoft to Boost Storage Performance for the Cloud with Open-Channel SSDs


Industry leaders driving adoption of storage technology optimized for data centers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – August 8, 2017 – Tuesday at Flash Memory Summit 2017, CNEX Labs, Inc., a private semiconductor company providing solid-state storage controllers and software for cloud, hyperscale, and enterprise data centers, announced an initiative in collaboration with Microsoft to standardize cloud-optimized Open-Channel Solid State Drive (SSD) technology amidst growing industry support for the ground-breaking approach to non-volatile storage at hyper-scale.

“Microsoft is collaborating with CNEX to develop Open-Channel SSD technology, ensuring it meets the demanding requirements of a cloud-first world,” said Kushagra Vaid, GM, Microsoft Azure Hardware Infrastructure. “Together we’re excited to open this collaboration to industry partners with the aim of developing a robust ecosystem for this game-changing technology.”

“CNEX is proud to be working closely with Microsoft, Broadcom and other industry leaders to bring Open-Channel SSD technology to market, and we look forward to even wider industry collaboration as we produce an industry standard specification,” said Dr. Alan Armstrong, CEO and Co-Founder of CNEX Labs. “CNEX’s state-of-the-art PCIe SSD controllers are built from the ground up with native Open-Channel SSD support to achieve unprecedented performance with low and deterministic latencies, and we have made significant investments in host software – including to LightNVM, the Linux subsystem for Open-Channel SSDs – to provide a launch pad for the broad adoption of this break-through storage advancement.”

“Broadcom is excited to participate in the Open-Channel SSD initiative,” said Ed Redmond, senior vice president and general manager of the Compute and Connectivity Division at Broadcom. “With LightNVM host software, developed by CNEX, running on Broadcom’s NetXtreme S-Series high performance ARM cores, our customers can now provide IO determinism over NMVe-oF. This will enable more predictable QoS and application performance resulting in rapid adoption of Open-Channel SSD.”

Product announcements and demonstrations at this year’s Flash Memory Summit highlight a maturing Open-Channel SSD technology ecosystem, including:

  • Broadcom NetXtreme S-Series SOC with Open-Channel SSD support and NVMe over Fabrics connectivity (booth 729 Hall B)
  • OakGate Technology SSD test appliance featuring the company’s Storage Validation Framework software, now with Open-Channel SSD test capability (booth 807)
  • SerialTek BusExpert Micro II PCIe/NVMe Protocol Analyzer with Open-Channel SSD command decode support (booth 635)
  • CNEX Labs Open-Channel SSD Reference Design and Linux LightNVM host software (CNEX FMS Suite, demonstrations available by appointment)

Solid-state storage is experiencing explosive growth in cloud infrastructure due to its significant advantages in throughput, latency, and power consumption. However, in large multi-tenant cloud environments with demanding, varied workloads, optimizing performance while also achieving low and predictable latencies is a challenge due to IO collisions and background processing performed by each SSD. Open-Channel SSDs expose the internal parallelism of SSDs and provide greater control of the underlying physical media by the host, enabling a more centralized, software-defined intelligence to manage IO scheduling and data placement to achieve more deterministic I/O performance.
The Open-Channel SSD standards initiative will be open to participation by member companies beginning in Q4 of 2017, with a specification release targeted in the first half of 2018.

About CNEX Labs, Inc.

CNEX is a privately held company founded in 2013 and funded by venture capital and strategic investments from Fortune 500 companies in storage and networking. CNEX delivers innovative storage system solutions in the form of semiconductors and software, partnering with solid-state storage manufacturers and data center customers to develop revolutionary NVMe and Open-Channel SSD controller ASICs that deliver high-performance with low and predictable latency, scalability, and flexibility for software-defined-storage. CNEX controller products are key to accelerating the capabilities of big data compute and analytics for the next generation of cloud, hyper scale and enterprise data centers. For more information, please visit

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