Think there’s nothing new going on in data-center storage? Think again.
NVM Express, a relatively new interface protocol, is the place for innovation in solid state drives (SSDs). It allows host software to communicate with both enterprise and client SSDs via the PCI Express (PCIe) interface. And PCIe is now pretty much standard on most modern servers.
Unlike the older SATA spec, which dates back to the hard disk, NVMe has been architected from the ground up for today’s SSD storage. With low latency and small overhead, NVMe is ready for whatever the next generation of SSDs dishes out.
That’s led to a mature storage ecosystem. NVMe/PCIe products are currently available from more than 40 manufacturers worldwide offering nearly 130 SSD models. These include such household names as Cisco, Dell, HPE and Lenovo.
That, in part, is why NVMe has been adopted for use by organizations running some of the largest data centers in the world. These NVMe users include Facebook, Google Cloud and Microsoft.
Another reason: While many SATA SSDs are cheaper to purchase, NVMe offers better price/performance, a superior indicator of total cost of ownership (TCO).
For example, one of Intel’s NVMe SSDs, model D5-P4320, offers a price/performance of $273 per terabyte. Yet a comparable SATA SSD, Intel’s model D3-S4510, checks in at a considerably higher $303/TB.
In the example above, the SATA drive is cheaper to purchase: $1,164, compared with the NVMe drive’s price of $2,094. But the SATA SSD can store only 3.84 TB. That’s just half the NVMe drive’s capacity of 7.68 TB. Here's where the superior price/performance comes in.
Higher capacities also mean your customers can store the same amount of data on fewer drives. That can allow them to consolidate drives while also freeing up valuable (and costly) floor space for other uses.
The new standard
So how does this lead to storage innovation? In part, with over a dozen industry leaders promoting the standard. These include Intel, Cisco, Toshiba, Seagate, Western Digital and Samsung.
Also, while SATA’s development has slowed to a near stall, NVMe is fully in gear. Last year alone saw 3 new specs:
> NVMe 1.4: This is the current base spec. The latest version improves quality of service (QoS), speeds performance, improves high-availability deployments, and boosts scalability optimizations for data centers.
> NVMe-oF 1.1: The “oF” is short for “over Fabrics.” This spec enables NVMe to operate over interconnects other than PCIe. Version 1.1 includes enhanced discovery, allowing hosts to discover new NVMe devices.
> NVMe-MI 1.1: “MI” is short for “Management Interface,” and this spec defines an architecture and command set for both out-of-band and in-band management of an NVMe storage device and an NVMe enclosure. Version 1.1 includes enclosure management for slot controls, LEDs and fans.
Storage innovation today
If your data-center customers think storage innovation is a thing of the past, set them straight. Point them to these NVMe over PCIe resources:
> Check out a webpage: Intel SSD with NVMe outperforms SSDs (includes short video on data center SSDs)
> Watch a video: NVMe SSD – 6X faster than SATA with Intel SSD Data Center family
> Watch this video too: Under the hood: Unlocking SSD performance with NVMe technology