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In Russia, a Baikal-based Transactional DSS is Being Built for the Sanctioned Companies

09 October 2020

By Denis Voeykov

A conglomerate of four Russian companies has developed a prototype of a transactional network storage system based on the domestic Baikal processor. Ready-to-use engineering designs are expected to appear in early 2021.

Baikal-based DSS

As CNews has learned, by April 2021, engineering samples of the so-called transactional data storage system (DSS) based on the domestic Baikal processor manufactured by Baikal Electronics should appear in Russia. We are talking directly about the eight-core Baikal-M chip released in 2019, implemented on the ARM architecture (Advanced RISC Machine) on 28-nm topology.

At the moment, the DSS already exists in the form of a full-featured prototype. It was first shown at the International Microelectronika 2020 forum, which was held in Yalta in early October 2020.

Several Russian organizations are involved in the creation of the system. The St. Petersburg Omega is the integrator of software and hardware solutions in the project. The core of the system is the Baikal-based motherboard developed by another participant: Edelweiss. The board may run on the ALT Linux, Astra Linux, Debian, and RED OS operating systems.

As the Edelweiss Executive Director Aleksander Grishchenkov and the Omega Representative Aleksander Manasuev told CNews, there were two more co-developers in this project. In particular, Ramek-VS assists in the hulling and supply of accompanying hardware (with the exception of the chip and the motherboard), whereas Open Virtualization Technologies creates storage software.

In Russia a Baikal-based Transactional DSS is Being Built

According to CNews interlocutors, before the prototype is translated into full-fledged engineering samples, and then goes into the series, deep testing of all components of the DSS will be carried out. Thus, the development of the system is not yet complete, therefore its creators are not yet ready to publish its detailed specifications and predict the final price of the devices. “Price is a complex parameter depending on many factors, including the size of the batch,” the top managers note.

According to them, all participants of the project will jointly promote DSS on the market. Investments in development are not disclosed, in part because they are still ongoing.

What Does Transactionality Means for DSS?

The system being created is generally part of the NAS (Network Attached Storage) class, which is designed to remotely access its storage through communication lines. At the same time, as noted above, developers tend to call their novelty “transactional”.

“Unlike traditional NAS, all activities in this DSS are divided into transactions and logged. At the same time, if the transaction was not logged, the system believes that the data was not recorded,” explained CNews Grishchenkov and Manasuyev. “This approach keeps data integrity and consistency when the hardware fails. In fact, this DSS uses an approach similar to the DBMS with the pre-record log (WAL).”

According to experts, when working with information, its copy for “reading only” is created, and all data changes are consistently entered into the current, specially allocated memory segment. As the memory segment is filled, accumulated information changes are recorded at the end of the log, a special section on the media (hard magnetic drive or flash drive).

This log consistently saves all previous changes. After recording information from the memory segment to the log, the changes are eventually fixed by recording a unique identifier into a special media section for long-term storage. Thus, the identifier acts as a consistency point of the state of information and ensures an automatic transition from one agreed state to another, minimizing the probability of damaging information in hardware failures.

“The program’s algorithm transforms the random nature of recording inherent in most transactional workloads into consistent, thereby significantly improving the performance of I/O information by making better use of media bandwidth, such as hard drives,” the CNews interlocutors conclude.

The DSS End Users

When speaking about the potential customers of the DSS being created, representatives of Edelweiss and Omega in a conversation with CNews called this issue difficult, but assumed that the organizations covered by the government’s decree No. 1746 dated December 21, 2019 would use it.

It can be recalled that by this document, the authorities banned the purchase of foreign data storage systems (DSS) for municipal and state needs for two years in order to ensure the security of the country’s critical information infrastructure (CII), including that used in the implementation of national projects. In this case, “domestic” means DSS, information about which is included in the Unified Register of Russian Radio-Electronic Products of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Taking into account that the Ramek-VS company participates in the project (the VS here means the Armed Forces), one would assume that storage developers are primarily focused on defense structures. “Not only,” CNews interlocutors commented on this version. “In this product, we are implementing a full-fledged import substitution, so it will be of interest to all companies with sanctions risks.”

Some Additions

In the context of the aforementioned import substitution, it is worth noting that the developers assess the core of the software-defined part of the storage system as a fully Russian development—from the implementation of remote data access protocols to the implementation of I/O and caching mechanisms.

“The main emphasis of the software part in the new solution was made on the domestic implementation of open standards and data access protocols, which ensure a high level of compatibility of the new product with the equipment park already available to Russian companies,” the project participants say.

Source: CNews, 09.10.2020


Baikal Electronics is a joint venture between the T-Platforma Russian supercomputer developer and the T-Nano nanocenter of the RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs. The company specializes in the design of the ARM- and MIPS-based integrated chips and crystal systems. The company’s developments are designed for use in the energy-efficient computer and industrial systems with different performance and functionality.

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