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What is NVMe?

NVMe, NVMe-oF, NVMe/FC and NVMe/TCP defined

NVMe (nonvolatile memory express) is a new storage access and transport protocol for flash and next-generation solid-state drives (SSDs) that delivers the highest throughput and fastest response times yet for all types of enterprise workloads.

Today, in both consumer apps and business, users expect ever-faster response times, even as the applications themselves become vastly more complex and resource dependent.

To help deliver a high-bandwidth, low-latency user experience, the NVMe protocol accesses flash storage via a PCI Express (PCIe) bus, which supports tens of thousands of parallel command queues and thus is much faster than hard disks and traditional all-flash architectures, which are limited to a single command queue.

The NVMe specification takes advantage of nonvolatile memory in all kinds of computing environments. And it’s future-proof, extendable to work with not-yet-invented persistent memory technologies.

For Dummies Guide

NVMe over Fibre Channel for Dummies

It’s about time – NVMe storage is big news in the enterprise data center because it saves time.

  • Unlike protocols designed in the days of mechanical hard disk drives, NVMe leverages not just solid-state storage, but also today’s multicore CPUs and gigabytes of memory.
  • NVMe storage also takes advantage of streamlined command sets to efficiently parse and manipulate data.

NVMe use cases

NVMe storage is already being used in business scenarios where every microsecond counts:

NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF)

NVMe is more than faster flash storage – it’s also an end-to-end standard that enables vastly more efficient transport of data between storage systems and servers.
  • NVMe over Fabrics extends NVMe’s performance and latency benefits across network fabrics such as Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and InfiniBand.
  • Provides higher IOPS and reduced latency from the host software stack all the way through the Data Fabric to the storage array.

NVMe over Fibre Channel (NVMe/FC)

NetApp®ONTAP® provides NVMe over Fibre Channel support today.

Many enterprises have built their entire infrastructure around Fibre Channel because of its performance and reliability, plus its support for fabric-based zoning and name services.

Applications such as databases run much faster when using the NVMe/FC protocol compared to FCP (SCSI protocol with an underlying Fibre Channel connection). ONTAP NVMe/FC traffic can co-reside with FCP traffic on the same Fibre Channel fabric, so it’s easy to get started with NVMe/FC. For many customers with ONTAP AFF systems, this is simply a nondisruptive software upgrade.

NVMe over TCP (NVMe/TCP)

NVMe/TCP, like NVMe/FC, provides a path to achieving NVMe-oF but it runs over Ethernet and encapsulates NVMe commands and data inside a TCP datagram. 

NVMe/TCP enables a larger number of queues and queue paths for data transport compared to iSCSCI resulting in significant increase in throughput and latency reduction. 

What makes NVMe/TCP particularly beneficial is that it doesn’t require any special hardware to deploy. Like iSCSI, NVMe/TCP can use ANY Ethernet NICs and switches, making it simpler and less expensive to deploy and maintain. Since it can be deployed on any TCP network, It can be used on-premises or in the cloud. The extreme flexibility makes NVMe/TCP especially attractive for cloud service providers who want to offer a block storage solution. The performance improvements, cloud flexibility, lower TCO and deployment simplicity will increasingly drive iSCSI replacements with NVMe/TCP in the future.

A dual support of both NVMe/FC and NVMe/TCP will allow customers to choose which protocol to deploy in order to best serve their modern SAN infrastructure needs, even to use both concurrently or switch from one to the other freely as they go. It will be a simple and flexible way for enterprises and cloud service providers to optimize performance and reduce cost for their business.

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