NVMe set to boost next-gen flash storage performance

NVMe removes communication bottlenecks and can deliver a significant performance boost, explains an expert, unleashing the capabilities of the most demanding business applications.

Jeff Rowe | Nov 13, 2017 12:00 am

Many large enterprises and service providers are looking to replace their traditional flash arrays, and they’re increasingly turning to NVMe-based flash.  But what, exactly, is that?

In a recent interview, Tom Leyden, VP Corporate Marketing, Excelero, a tech solutions company, explained that while the shift from mechanical Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) to silicon SSDs and flash has brought about major performance, capacity and reliability improvements, there have been issues too. In particular, he said, “the storage media suffers from performance bottlenecks caused by the technology connecting the storage to the rest of the IT system. Adapters and protocols originally designed for slower hard drives just haven’t been able to keep up. This is where NVMe comes in.”

NVMe, or NVM Express, short for Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification, is a new high-speed storage protocol that has been created to capitalize on the performance benefits of flash and SSDs, which in turn opens up a whole range of opportunities from massive web applications and supercomputing applications to powerful data analytics environments such as the healthcare IoT.

Flash memory is already fast, Leyden explains, but NVMe makes it even faster by enabling communication with the storage device across thousands of parallel command queues.

“Just to give you an idea of scale, HDDs typically employ a single queue with 32 commands, while NVMe boasts 64,000 queues and 64,000 commands per queue. NVMe then streamlines these commands so that the flash technology only sees those that it requires to store and retrieve the data. By making the command structure that much more efficient, NVMe reduces CPU cycles, reduces latency and increases IOPS. It’s not hard to see how it speeds up performance.”

Business is changing, Leyden points out. “We’re demanding more from our applications and our IT infrastructure. Think about big data analytics programs or high-performance computing research, for example. High performance is essential.”

NVMe removes bottlenecks and can handle four times more parallel IO commands than SAS/SATA SSD controllers, delivering an extraordinary performance boost and unleashing the capabilities of the most demanding business applications.