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Intel VROC

Intel VROC 2 July 2024

VROC (Intel Virtual RAID on CPU) is a software solution designed to extend the capabilities of the NVMe host controller built into the Intel processor.

Intel VROC Overview

The processor host controller is capable of supporting four NVMe drives. This number can be increased to 24 or more devices using additional interface cards or PCIe switches in the chassis backplanes; however, the processor cannot manage them. The controller is required to connect the NVMe SSD and protect data in the array.

Intel Virtual RAID on CPU (Intel VROC) is a newly released enterprise RAID solution specifically developed for NVMe SSDs. This solution can improve storage reliability through redundancy without limiting the link performance of NVMe SSDs.

VROC uses Intel Volume Management Device (Intel VMD) technology. The Intel VMD is a controller embedded into the PCIe root CPU complex. It is compatible with the latest Intel Xeon Scalable processors. Intel VMD provides the ability to apply virtual and physical HBAs for connected NVMe drives. Intel VMD offers enhanced SSD maintenance features while maintaining a high level of reliability. Using Intel VMD, disks can be hot-swapped. In addition to this, it monitors the status of connected drives. Intel VMD is widespread. For example, the VMware ESXi 6.7 release provides the Intel VMD NVMe driver, which is responsible for managing NVMe SSDs in vSAN.

NVMe SSDs with Intel VROC support include direct connection to the CPU. Thus, the full performance potential of the NVMe interface is revealed. Intel VROC allows you to take full advantage of RAID controller benefits without the added complexity, expense, and power consumption of traditional RAID adapter cards that sit between the disks and the processor.

Intel VROC is a hybrid RAID solution. This solution offers a number of features, including hardware RAID, as it is based on Intel Volume Management Device (Intel VMD). This feature is embedded “in silicon” of Intel Xeon Scalable processors. Using Intel Virtual RAID on CPU (VROC) makes it possible to combine NVMe SSDs using Intel VMD, which provides boot RAID. Intel VROC offers software RAID features as well. For example, it calculates RAID logic using several CPU cores. Thus, Intel VROC is considered a hybrid RAID solution due to the successful combination of chip and software.

Scalable RAID from NVMe SSD

Using Intel VROC, the Intel Xeon Scalable processor is capable of supporting up to twelve directly attached NVMe SSDs and six RAID arrays (these values double for dual processor configurations). A maximum of 48 NVMe SSDs can be connected via a PCIe switch.

Intel VROC supports boot volumes as well as data volumes. This makes it possible to apply a single array for both the system and the data volumes.

The boot RAID array must be located on the same VMD controller.

RAID arrays of data can be placed on multiple Intel VMD controllers. They can also be distributed on several processors in the same system.

Intel VROC supports a wide range of various strip sizes – 4k, 8k, 16k, 32k, 64k, 128k.

Intel VROC Management

You can configure RAID using the GUI or CLI. The RESTful web agent allows you to manage arrays both locally and remotely.

Implementing an array with Intel VROC

While the motherboard BIOS does not have a top-notch graphical interface for managing the Intel VROC array, it is fairly easy to understand and convenient to use.

  1. First, you need to create a RAID volume.
  2. Then it is necessary to enter its name, RAID level, mark the disks that are combined, and the sector size.
  3. After creating a volume, it can be declared bootable.

Intel VROC Performance Tuning

Based on materials from “RAID Performance Analysis on Intel VROC”.

White Paper.

Data Center Memory and Storage.

It is important to ensure maximum parallelism of query processing in order to achieve the highest level of theoretical performance with millions of operations per second. If this is not done, performance may be limited, and the number of locks may increase. Intel VROC has an integrated RAID mechanism that limits the number of I/O operations per second. When managing a single RAID volume, this is approximately 1 million IOPS; when managing a group of volumes, this is about 1.4 million IOPS.

The number of Intel VROC RAID threads can vary significantly depending on the number of factors: settings and the nature of the storage workload. Intel VROC RAID uses 10 active threads by default.

You can change the number of Intel VROC RAID threads in use by changing the value in the register:


Maximum disk subsystem performance may be limited by reducing the number of active threads. It is possible that an increased number of threads will improve system performance. This is especially important for tasks that involve the simultaneous execution of multiple volumes. It is also worth noting that the number of threads should not exceed the number of processor cores installed in the first socket of the server or platform. After rebooting the system, changes to register settings become effective.

Array and storage management

Replacing a failed drive does not require a reboot since hot swap support is enabled. Administrators can visually assess the RAID status (stable, initialization, regression or failure) as well as find the necessary disk in a huge number of SSDs using the LED status indicator. Automatic notifications are sent to administrators by email to inform them of situations requiring intervention.

Reliable RAID for data protection

Organizations need to be able to protect all data in the event of an operational or power failure. Intel VROC provides protection and a high level of data security in the event of RAID 5 degradation and simultaneous power failure.

Most RAID solutions provide an opportunity to eliminate this problem by using a backup power supply, however, this increases costs. Intel VROC is capable of solving these difficulties with licensed logging. Systems with Intel VROC arrays no longer require a redundant power supply.

Worth noting! NVMe SSDs designed for power loss protection centers are the only ones that have Intel VROC RAID 5 dual fault protection available.

Intel VROC delivery options

Three varieties of Intel VROC physical license key are available:

  • Intel VROC Standard: supports RAID 0/1/10 for third-party NVMe SSDs;
  • Intel VROC Premium: supports RAID 0/1/5/10 for third-party NVMe SSDs;
  • Intel VROC Intel SSD Only: supports RAID 0/1/5/10 for Intel NVMe SSDs. Third party SSDs are NOT SUPPORTED!

VROC compatibility

The VROC compatibility sheet published by Intel contains a range of only tested SSDs, operating systems, and hardware configurations. You can view this list at the following link: