Optimizing Storage Solutions Using the Intel® Intelligent Storage Acceleration Library

With the growing number of devices connected to the Cloud/Internet, data is being generated from many different sources including smartphones, tablets, and Internet of Things devices. The demand for storage is growing every year.  The combination of the Intel® Xeon® processor family and the Intel® Intelligent Storage Library (Intel® ISA-L) can provide developers with the tools to process data securely and quickly and even reduce storage space requirements.

In China, Intel collaborated with Qihoo 360 Technology Company Ltd to integrate Intel ISA-L into their storage solution. This resulted in a 10x performance increase and two-thirds reduction in required storage space. Read the case study.

Intel® ISA-L provides the tools to help accelerate and optimize storage on Intel® architecture (IA) for everything from small office NAS appliances up to enterprise storage systems.   The functions provided in this library help with storage recoverability, data integrity, data security, and faster data compression mechanisms.  This article provides a high level functional overview of Intel ISA-L.

Intel ISA-L provides the following collection of functions for use in storage applications:

  1. RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) functions allow faster parity computation that can be used by a RAID provider.  The RAID functions calculate and operate on XOR and P+Q parity. The mathematics of RAID are based on Galois finite-field arithmetic to find one or two parity bytes for each byte in N sources such that single or dual disk failures (one or two erasures) can be corrected.
     
  2. Erasure Code (EC) functions allow breaking up of objects into smaller fragments, storing the fragments in different places, and regenerating the data from any combination of smaller numbers of those fragments.  These EC functions implement a general Reed-Solomon type encoding for blocks of data to protect against erasure of whole blocks. Individual operations can be described in terms of arithmetic in the Galois finite field GF(28) with the particular field-defining primitive or reducing polynomial x8+ x4+ x3+ x2+1 (0x1d).
     
  3. CRC (cyclic redundancy check) functions permit the system to detect accidental changes to raw data during transmission.  The receiver can ask the transmitter to resend the package until the CRC matches. Functions in the CRC section are fast implementations of cyclic redundancy checks using IA specialized instructions such as PCLMULQDQ, carry-less multiplication.
     
  4. Multi-buffer Hashing (MbH) functions provide cryptographic hash functions that use the capabilities of IA.  Intel ISA-L supports MD5, SHA1, SHA256, and SHA512. These MbH functions are used to increase the performance of the secure hash algorithms on a single processor core by operating on multiple jobs at once. By buffering jobs, the algorithm can exploit the instruction-level parallelism inherent in modern IA cores to an extent not possible in a serial implementation.
     
  5. Encryption functions provide accelerated encryption by using the Intel® AES-NI instruction set.
     
  6. Compression functions provide a fast, DEFLATE compatible compression routine. DEFLATE is a widely used binary compression standard that forms the basis of zlib, gzip and zip. The Intel ISA-L implementation of compression is written to be faster than zlib-1 with only a small sacrifice in compression ratio. This is well suited for high-throughput storage applications.

Depending on the platform capability, Intel ISA-L can run on various Intel® processor families.  Improvements are obtained by speeding up the computations through the use of the following instruction sets:

Intel® ISA-L also includes unit tests, performance tests and samples written in C which can be used as usage examples.

Additional development information:

  • The library supports several generations of Intel® processors by providing multi-binary versions of some functions which developers can compile to deploy as a single binary which will detect and optimize based on the processor in use. Alternatively, developers can reduce code size by calling just one version. 
  • The calling convention for most functions in the library is C binding. Individual functions are written to be statically or dynamically linked with an application.
  • To build the Intel ISA-L functions, use Yasm* Assembler version v1.2.0 or later.
  • Some functions of the Intel ISA-L require the input parameters to be aligned on a 16B or 32B boundary. 

See the Intel ISA-L API reference manual for more details.

For developers who are interested in using the Intel ISA-L, the open source version (limited to Erasure Code functions) is available at 01.org


To access the full suite of Intel® Storage Acceleration Library functions, please fill out and submit this request form. We will respond to your query as soon as possible!

Other Related Links and Resources

Intel® Storage Acceleration Library (Open Source Version)

Erasure Code and Intel® Intelligent Storage Acceleration Library

Swift* with Erasure Coding for Storage

Intel and Qihoo 360 Internet Portal Datacenter - Big Data Storage Optimization Case Study

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