#174 – Introduction to Zoned Storage with Phil Bullinger

#174 – Introduction to Zoned Storage with Phil Bullinger

Chris EvansGuest Speakers, Storage Hardware, Storage Unpacked Podcast, Western Digital

This week, Chris and Martin chat to Phil Bullinger, Senior VP and General Manager for the Data Centre Business Unit at Western Digital. As storage media capacities increase, recording methods are introducing challenges to maintaining resiliency and performance. SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) and ZNS (Zoned Namespaces) are two techniques that have developed to address the scaling issues in modern media devices.

SMR is a technique for hard drives that overlays the recording area of tracks on storage media to gain increased areal density. This results in a requirement to re-write entire blocks or zones of disk that could be tens of megabytes in size.

ZNS divides solid-state media into zones to improve I/O performance and increase device endurance. This is achieved through reduction in write amplification and reduced garbage collection.

With both media, the recording techniques continue to help reduce the cost of devices and maintain the downward trend of $/GB for modern media. This discussion introduces us to the benefits and some of the challenges. If you want to learn more, Western Digital sponsors an independent website at http://zonedstorage.io/.

Elapsed Time: 00:45:08


  • 00:00:00 – Intros
  • 00:02:00 – What are today’s storage & data challenges?
  • 00:04:20 – HDDs & SSDs continue to grow in capacity but have challenges
  • 00:06:40 – I/O density represents a big problem for today’s media
  • 00:09:00 – What is zoned storage?
  • 00:12:41 – HDD media grains are driving new ways of reading/writing
  • 00:14:00 – SMR overmap
  • 00:16:50 – Zoned storage is designed for sequential workloads
  • 00:19:05 – What is ZNS – Zoned Namespaces?
  • 00:21:00 – SSDs try to emulate hard drives
  • 00:23:40 – ZNS can simplify the operation of reads and writes
  • 00:26:00 – ZNS can make SSD performance more deterministic
  • 00:28:40 – SMR has drive managed, host managed or host aware
  • 00:32:00 – Data centre builds are al about TCO, including storage
  • 00:34:34 – Will SDS see greater benefits from zoned storage?
  • 00:38:50 – Most data is written once and never amended
  • 00:42:00 – ZNS will improve the endurance of QLC
  • 00:43:00 – Wrap Up

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Phil’s Bio

Phil Bullinger is Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Data Center Business Unit for Western Digital where he focuses on accelerating the growth and performance of the company’s broad portfolio of data center disk and flash products.  

Previously, Bullinger was Senior Vice President and General Manager at Dell EMC, where he was responsible for the Isilon product line, including product planning, hardware and software engineering, production operations and customer support. He also held executive positions at Oracle as their Senior Vice President of SAN/NAS Storage, and at LSI as the Executive Vice President and General Manager for the Engenio Storage Group.

Bullinger’s 30-year career in storage spans a number of engineering and management roles from silicon to system-level products that have defined and led their respective market segments.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Kansas State University, and a Master of Science degree, magna cum laude, in Management of Technology from the National Technological University.

Bullinger holds five patents in the fields of storage technology and integrated circuit design.

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