Open Source and Open Standards open the Future

[Disclosure: I was invited by GestaltIT as a delegate to their Storage Field Day 19 event from Jan 22-24, 2020 in the Silicon Valley USA. My expenses, travel, accommodation and conference fees were covered by GestaltIT, the organizer and I was not obligated to blog or promote the vendors’ technologies to be presented at this event. The content of this blog is of my own opinions and views]

Western Digital dived into Storage Field Day 19 in full force as they did in Storage Field Day 18. A series of high impact presentations, each curated for the diverse requirements of the audience. Several open source initiatives were shared, all open standards to address present inefficiencies and designed and developed for a greater future.

Zoned Storage

One of the initiatives is to increase the efficiencies around SMR and SSD zoning capabilities and removing the complexities and overlaps of both mediums. This is the Zoned Storage initiatives a technical working proposal to the existing NVMe standards. The resulting outcome will give applications in the user space more control on the placement of data blocks on zone aware devices and zoned SSDs, collectively as Zoned Block Device (ZBD). The implementation in the Linux user and kernel space is shown below:


Western Digital is one of the founding members of RISC-V® organization, a foundation to drive the development and adoption of the open source RISC-V® ISA (instruction set architecture). RISC-V® is royalty free in hope that it will drive new innovations in processor architectures.

CHIPS Alliance

A natural progression from open source ISA in RISC-V is to have open source processors and integration interfaces as well. This leads to CHIPS Alliance, an open source, open standards consortium to “develop high-quality, open source hardware designs relevant to silicon devices and FPGAs“.

Hours before the presentation on Storage Field Day 19, news of Intel joining CHIPS Alliance came out. As part of their membership, Intel has also contributed its Advanced Interface Bus to the group, giving developers access to the bus and thus the means to interoperate with Intel (and other) chips that will be using it.


A couple of months back, Google launched the OpenTitan, an open source secure silicon Root of Trust (RoT) chip design project, together with Western Digital as a founding member. The idea and initiative is to make the silicon RoT design and implementation more transparent, trustworthy, and secure for enterprises, platform providers, and chip manufacturers.

OmniXtend memory fabric

Another open source initiative shared was Western Digital OmniXtend™ Cache Coherent memory fabric. The project obviously has ties to the RISC-V work, where OmniXtend™ protocol aims to maintain coherency among memory caches of different computing components (as shown in diagram below) in Ethernet frames.

It is still a nascent project but has the potential to support, scale and accelerate memory-centric applications. This reminded me of Memory Cloud piece which I wrote about 8 years ago. More about OmniXtend™ in this article.

The Zettabyte Era

We continue to talk about the exponential growth of data. The whole exhibition of data growth has been unrelentless but unfortunately, we are also seeing tremendous challenges to extract the value of the ever growing data. Foundational shifts in rethinking how the computational innovations are designed and developed are critical in processing data, securing it and moving them at the highest possible scale in the Zettabyte era.

Western Digital in this information session at Storage Field Day 19 not only espoused open source but to share with the industry innovations and technology that would benefit everyone as a whole. Pushing for open standards will put the industry on a road of a brighter future, and giving a more valuable path to computational data processing.

[ Note: At the time of writing, Western Digital just called their 2Q2020 numbers which topped Wall Street expectations. Good to read about positive news. ]



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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 30 years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because those are my areas of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to know the facts and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and between 2013-2015, I was SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently employed at iXsystems as their General Manager for Asia Pacific Japan.

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