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Marco Peereboom: Softraid: OpenBSD's virtual HBA, with benefits

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Uploaded on May 3, 2010

AsiaBSDCon 2010 paper session.

Abstract:

Prior to softraid(4) OpenBSD had two RAID implementations. RAIDframe is a full blown RAID implementation written by Carnegie Mellon University and ccd(4) is a minimal RAID-like I/O transformation engine developed at the University of Utah.

RAIDframe has not been synchronized with the upstream codebase for years and has never been enabled by default. In the OpenBSD project that translates to unsupported code. The only work done on RAIDframe was an occasional change to ensure that it still compiles. The RAIDframe code base is large, complex and intended for research purposes.

The ccd(4) stack is enabled by default but has also not seen any significant change or update in years. The implementation is bare-bones and its use is complex and error prone.

Both of these implementations interact at the block I/O layer. This results in the need for implementation specific tools rather than using system defaults such as bioctl(8)5, the tool normally used for RAID management.

Due to the above mentioned reasons a new generic implementation of I/O transformation was devised. It had to fit the OpenBSD philosophy of being simple and powerful, which led to the development of a virtual Host Bus Adapter (HBA) with benefits. These benefits are the capability to transform any standard SCSI I/O operation into one or more complex operations, enabling functionality such as RAID, iSCSI and encryption.

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