Different NVMe Configurations

March 21, 2016 – 8:07 pm

server storage I/O trends
Updated 1/12/2018

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 different 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

Where To Learn More

View additional NVMe, SSD, NVM, SCM, Data Infrastructure and related topics via the following links.

Additional learning experiences along with common questions (and answers), as well as tips can be found in Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials book.

Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials Book SDDC

What This All Means

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 – Microsoft MVP Cloud and Data Center Management, VMware vExpert 2010-2017 (vSAN and vCloud). Author of Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC Press), as well as Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press), Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier) and twitter @storageio. Courteous comments are welcome for consideration. First published on https://storageioblog.com any reproduction in whole, in part, with changes to content, without source attribution under title or without permission is forbidden.

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