Enabling The Green and Virtual Data Center

Greg Schulz

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Part II - NVMe overview and primer (Different Configurations)

Part II - NVMe overview and primer (Different Configurations)

Part II - NVMe overview and primer (Different Configurations)

server storage I/O trends

This is the second in a five-part mini-series providing a primer and overview of NVMe. View companion posts and more material at www.thenvmeplace.com.

The many faces or facets of NVMe configurations

NVMe can be deployed and used in many ways, the following are some examples to show you its flexibility today as well as where it may be headed in the future. An initial deployment scenario is NVMe devices (e.g. PCIe cards, M2 or 8639 drives) installed as storage in servers or as back-end storage in storage systems. Figure 2 below shows a networked storage system or appliance that uses traditional server storage I/O interfaces and protocols for front-end access, however with back-end storage being all NVMe, or a hybrid of NVMe, SAS and SATA devices.
NVMe as back-end server storage I/O interface to NVM
Figure 2 NVMe as back-end server storage I/O interface to NVM storage

A variation of the above is using NVMe for shared direct attached storage (DAS) such as the EMC DSSD D5. In the following scenario (figure 3), multiple servers in a rack or cabinet configuration have an extended PCIe connection that attached to a shared storage all flash array using NVMe on the front-end. Read more about this approach and EMC DSSD D5 here or click on the image below.

Figure 3 Shared DAS All Flash NVM Storage using NVMe (e.g. EMC DSSD D5)

Next up in figure 4 is a variation of the previous example, except NVMe is implemented over an RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access) based fabric network using Converged 10GbE/40GbE or InfiniBand in what is known as RoCE (RDMA over Converged Ethernet pronounced Rocky).

NVMe over Fabric RoCE
Figure 4 NVMe as a “front-end” interface for servers or storage systems/appliances

Watch for more topology and configuration options as NVMe along with associated hardware, software and I/O networking tools and technologies emerge over time.

Continue reading about NVMe with Part III (Need for Performance Speed) in this five-part series, or jump to Part I, Part IV or Part V.

Ok, nuff said (for now)


Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

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Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.