Part II – NVMe overview and primer (Different Configurations)

March 21, 2016 – 8:07 pm

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.

EMC DSSD D5 NVMe
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)

Cheers
Gs

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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  2. Aug 18, 2016: A NVMe Bibliography – J Metz's Blog
  3. Dec 5, 2016: Learning NVMe: A Program of Study – J Metz's Blog

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