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New Arm chip could give your SSD superpowers

(Image credit: Arm Limited)

Arm has unveiled its new Cortex-R82 processor core designed for high-performance real-time applications that promises a two-times performance uplift when compared to its predecessor. 

The new core will be primarily used for modern storage devices - including solid-state drives and hard disk drives - that require more computational performance and more onboard DRAM for data processing. 

Arm’s Cortex-R cores are used in various SoCs for communications and storage, including modems and HDD and SSD controllers. Arm’s previous-generation Cortex-R8 is a 32-bit core that cannot address more than 4GB of DRAM, which is sometimes a limitation for modern high-capacity SSDs, all-flash arrays and in-storage processing.

Real-time Linux-capable core

The Arm Cortex-R82 is the company’s first processor core for real-time applications that uses its 64-bit Armv8-R architecture. The key features of the product look as follows:

  • Two times higher performance when compared to the Cortex-R8;
  • Scalability up to eight cores per cluster at 1.80GHz;
  • Ability to address up to 1TB of DRAM;
  • Optional MMU capability for operating systems like Linux;
  • Optional Neon accelerators for machine learning (ML) and floating-point computations. 

High performance and 40-bit memory addressing will make Arm’s Cortex-R82 a core of choice for next-generation SSDs that will require better signal processing as 3D NAND memory gets more complex and drives get more capacious. But the new core will enable much more.

(Image credit: Arm Limited)

In-storage processing applications are gaining traction, but today they rely on SoCs powered by Arm’s Cortex-A-series processor cores. Such SoCs offer high performance, but Cortex-A-series cores are not the most optimal choice for storage applications because of latencies. 

Linux-capable Cortex-R82 can do general-purpose processing while offering consistent performance and low latencies expected from a real-time core, which somewhat changes rules of the game. Furthermore, the addition of Neon accelerators and up to 1TB of DRAM further expands applicability of in-storage processing for IoT as well as edge computing.  

Meanwhile, one controller based on four Arm Cortex-R82 cores can now serve both classic SSD as well as computational storage applications, which will make developers like Marvell, Phison, and Silicon Motion happy.

(Image credit: Arm Limited)

Arm expects its Cortex-R82 cores to be implemented using 5nm process technologies, which is an overkill for client SSD controllers today. But for more advanced solid-state storage solutions that need to combine performance and low power, this might be what the doctor ordered.

Source: Arm Limited