NVMe and You

Posted on 01/30/2015 by

Tien Shiah

Hope you’ve enjoyed our blog series with Dell Tech Center.  Here is our final installment.

In the article, “The Evolution of Solid State Drives for the Enterprise,” we presented a brief overview of the interface choices available for Solid State Drives (SSDs). Of the three standard choices available, SATA, SAS, and PCIe, it was the PCIe interface that clearly supported the fastest throughput and highest performance numbers. Given the data-intensive requirements and increased performance needs of applications today, it appears certain that more and more organizations will be turning to PCIe SSDs to meet their enterprise storage needs.

The Dawn of NVMe

Within the category of PCI Express (PCIe)-based SSDs, there have been several advancements that have had a significant impact on capacity and performance levels in just the last year.  While it is widely understood that PCIe SSDs utilize non-volatile NAND memory (i.e., that the data held by the drive is persistent and will not be lost in the event that power is abruptly terminated to the drive), not all PCIe SSDs used a standard set of drivers or feature sets – the result being inconsistent drive performance by manufacturer, incompatibility in some systems, etc.

Dell and Samsung Semiconductor, along with a consortium of over 90 other companies, sought to remove the differences in available non-volatile memory (NVM) drives.  The result was a standard specification called NVM Express, or NVMe. Samsung was the first to introduce an NVMe drive to the market, providing a standardized, high-performance solution that was previously only available via expensive, custom solutions. As outlined in detail here, NVMe standard drives exploit the full potential of non-volatile memory while incorporating a feature set required by enterprise and client systems. They also extend the evolving trend of SSDs to reduce I/O latency while driving up overall performance. In fact, upon launch, NVMe drives boasted a 50%+ reduction in latency when compared to the already solid performance of SCSI/SAS SSDs.

NVMe in Your Environment

Generally speaking, PCIe SSDs are ideal in environments where cache performance is critical. Data that is in high demand is held in cache, reducing the time needed to access that data, lowering latency, and improving application performance. Similarly, these flash drives accelerate log file writes, also resulting in increased application acceleration.

As such, customers that have broad OLTP or OLAP requirements will realize immediate performance improvements in their environment with PCIe SSDs from Samsung. Response times are reduced, transactions per second increase, and the maximum number of concurrent users goes up. This is particularly apparent in environments where there is a need to reduce the differences in performance between storage and the central processor, a need to add high-speed caching to an existing HDD tier, or an overall need to accelerate the performance of mission critical applications while maintaining the highest levels of data integrity.

When you add in the benefits associated with the NVMe standard, you can achieve performance gains across multiple cores to access critical data, enjoy scalability with headroom for current (and future) non-volatile memory performance, and leverage end-to-end data protection capabilities. As you consider your choice of SSD interfaces in your environment, you can refer to a growing list of benefits that can be achieved by deploying NVMe PCIe SSD. Dell PowerEdge Express Flash NVMe PCIe SSDs, powered by Samsung NVMe SSD technology:

• Have twice the performance of previous generational PCIe SSD devices

• Are front-access, hot-plug 2.5-inch PCIe SSD devices that support the ability to “hot-add” additional devices without the need to insert cards into PCIe slots that require taking a server offline

• Utilize device-based flash management, reducing overhead costs

• Support a wide range of applications including OLTP, OLAP, collaborative environments, and virtualization (where there is random access to data versus sequential access for reads and writes)

• Provide lower latency of data

To learn more about Dell PowerEdge Express Flash NVMe PCIe SSDs, please visit: http://i.dell.com/sites/doccontent/shared-content/data-sheets/en/Documents/Dell_PowerEdge_Express_Flash_NVMe_PCIe_SSD_Spec_Sheet.pdf

To lean more about Samsung SSDs, please visit: http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/product/flash-ssd/overview

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