Erasure Coding Scheme for Data Protection and Recovery

Describes the erasure coding (EC) schemes for data protection and recovery.

Erasure coding (EC) is a data protection method in which data is broken into fragments, expanded and encoded with redundant data pieces, and stored across a set of different locations or storage media.

Tip: For an excellent introduction to EC, see this tech talk.

EC ensures that if data becomes corrupted, it can be reconstructed using information about the data that is present elsewhere.

The time required to reconstruct data depends on the number of data fragments in the chosen EC scheme, and the number of failures that have occurred. For example, reconstruction of EC scheme 10+2 takes longer compared to the reconstruction of EC scheme 3+2, as a larger number of data blocks must be read.

There are two kinds of EC schemes that you can use:

  • EC Schemes Without Local Parity: Even for a single failure, for a m+n scheme, the system must read a minimum of m other blocks to reconstruct data.
  • EC Schemes With Local Parity: In such schemes, for a single failure, the system reads just the remaining data blocks in the affected segment, along with the local parity block of the affected segment, to rebuild data. Rebuilding data for a single failure is much faster on a scheme with a local parity, as a fewer number of blocks must be read.

Considerations When Selecting an EC scheme

As an administrator, consider the following points when selecting an EC scheme:

  • How many nodes can you afford to have?
  • How long are you willing to wait for a node to be rebuilt?
  • How many failures might occur? Do you anticipate a single failure, or multiple failures?

EC Schemes Without Local Parity

In an erasure coded volume, an erasure coding scheme without Local Parity has the stripe layout m+n. The stripe is an array of m data fragments and n parity fragments.

Each fragment is called a stripelet. ​Each stripelet is present on a container and one stripe is across different containers on different nodes.​ The default stripelet size is 4MB. For an EC scheme 4+2 for example, the stripe size is 24MB.

A Container Group (CG) is collection of such stripes. Based on the maximum size of a container (32 GB), the maximum number of stripes in a CG is 8K.

Each stripe is created by the same number of data fragments from all containers in the group of EC containers. Each container is placed on a different physical node.

  • m is the number of data fragments.
  • n is the number of redundant fragments (referred to as parity fragments).
  • The parity is calculated using data from all data fragments.
  • m/(m+n) is the encoding rate.
  • m+n is the number of encoded fragments.
  • You need to read a minimum of m blocks to recover data.
  • You can recover data from a maximum of n failures.

For example, assume m=4, n=2, and stripe depth=4 MB.



  • The number of data fragments is four (4), and while the number of parity fragments is two (2).
  • The number of encoded fragments is six (6).
  • The stripe size is 16 MB (4x4 MB) of user data, and 8 MB (2x4 MB) of parity fragments.
  • The system can handle two (2) failures, and any chunk can be recovered from four (4) other chunks.
Requirements for using an erasure coding scheme without local parity
  • The number of data fragments must be 3 to 10.
  • The number of parity fragments must be greater than 1 and less than the number of data fragments.
  • The number of data fragments must be greater than the number of parity fragments.
  • The number of nodes must be greater than or equal to the sum of data and parity fragments.

Select from the following schemes for erasure-coded volumes:

EC Scheme Number of Data Nodes Number of Parity Nodes Total Number of Nodes Needed Number of Failures Recoverable Number of Nodes to Read to Recover Data
CLI MCS
3+2 3, 2 3 2 5 2 3
4+2 4, 2 4 2 6 2 4
5+2 5, 2 5 2 7 2 5
6+3 6, 3 6 3 9 3 6
10+<x> where x is a value from 1 to 9 N.A 10 x 10+x x 10

Although you can create a volume without the required number of nodes for a specific scheme, volume offload fails if the required number of nodes are not present.

When choosing the scheme, note that more nodes leads to longer recovery time, resulting in degraded performance, network expense, and lengthy time to rebuild.

If you anticipate only a single failure, use an EC scheme with local parity, as the number of nodes needed to be read for recovery is fewer, when compared to an EC scheme without local parity.

For example, consider a 12 + 4 EC scheme represented as D0 + D1 + D2 +....+D10 + D11 + P0 +…+P3​

Suppose node D4 goes down, now to rebuild, a total of 12 stripelets must be read.​ This leads to huge performance degradation in network bandwidth, CPU cycles, and Disk IO .

To reduce the reconstruction cost, use EC Local Parity, where the number of stripelets to be read reduces to 6 for a single failure in the 12+2+2 scheme.
Important: The recommended number of nodes required for erasure coding is M+2N (rather than M+N) to ensure data-fabric self-healing and proper operation after N failures. N failures with only M+N nodes allows you to continue reading the data, but with significantly reduced performance because each read requires rebuilding data fragments. Also, manual intervention is required to protect the data from further failures. Currently, data will not be erasure coded if only M nodes are available. With M+2N nodes, N failures will self-heal with no operator intervention.

EC Schemes With Local Parity

Choosing an EC scheme with local parity, reduces EC storage overhead without incurring high rebuild costs and longer rebuild times while lowering the probability of data loss. HPE recommends the following tested local parity schemes:

EC Scheme Number of Data Nodes Number of Local Parity Nodes Number of Global Parity Nodes Total Number of Nodes Needed Number of Failures Recoverable Number of Nodes to Read to Recover Data
CLI MCS
10+2+2 N/A 10 2 2 14
  • 3 all the time
  • 4 most of the time
  • 5 for a single failure
  • 10 for multiple failures
12+2+2 N/A 12 2 2 16
  • 3 all the time
  • 4 most of the time
  • 6 for a single failure
  • 12 for multiple failures

Consider reading the following technical discussion only if you want to specify other local parity schemes.

Technical discussion on parity schemes

Local parity is calculated from a subset of data blocks.

Consider a 10+2 scheme without local parity.

In this example, if block D6 fails, the system needs to read a minimum of 10 other blocks, to recover data.

Now consider a 10+2+2 scheme with local parity. In this case, data is divided into two (2) segments, each containing five (5) data blocks, with a local parity for each segment. The global parity blocks are common to both segments. To recover from a single failure, the system must read only the four (4) remaining blocks in the affected segment, and the corresponding local parity block:

In this example, since there is only a single failure in a segment (block D5), the system must only read blocks D1+D2+D3+D4+L1 (which is the local parity of this data segment). Recovery is much faster and more efficient, due to the local parity block.

Points to note for using an erasure coding scheme with local parity

  • In an EC scheme represented as k+g+l, k is the number of data blocks, g is the number of global parity blocks, and l is the number of local parity blocks.
  • You need k+g+l nodes for each local parity scheme.
  • k must be divisible by l to get k/l data blocks in each segment. For example, in the 10+2+2 EC scheme, there are 10/2=5 data blocks in each segment.
  • l must be greater than 1.
  • k must be greater than (g+l).
  • With local parity, the system can recover from 1 to g+1 failures at any time. In the 10+2+2 scheme, the system can recover from 1 to 3 failures at any time.
  • The system can recover from g+2 to g+l failures in certain cases. With the 10+2+2 scheme, the system can recover from 4 failures, in certain cases.
  • If none of the data blocks have failed for a segment, the system cannot use the corresponding local parity block to recover from a failure in another segment. For example:

    To recover D5, the system reads only D1+D2+D3+D4+L1. It does not read D1+D2+D3+D4+L2, since there are no failures in the data blocks D6 to D10, for which L2 is the local parity block.
  • For a single failure, the system needs to read k/l blocks to recover. For multiple failures, the system needs to read k blocks to recover.

With local parity, the system recovers from a maximum of g+l failures, in certain cases. For the 10+2+2 scheme, the system can recover from a maximum of 4 failures, in certain cases. For example:

Here, there are 4 failures. The required number of blocks to read (10 in this case) are available, for recovery. The system reads D1+D2+D3+D6+D9+D10+L1+L2+G1+G2.

However, consider the following example:

Although there are 4 failures, the system does not have the required number of blocks (10) to read and recover. The only blocks that can be read are D1+D2+L1+D6+D7+D8+D9+D10+G1. Block L2 cannot be read because there are no failures in its corresponding data blocks D6 to D10. Therefore in this case, data cannot be recovered.