Five reasons why you should consider NVMe-oF ™ today / ServerNews

Five reasons why you should consider NVMe-oF ™ today / ServerNews


NVMe ™ is not only a modern protocol, but also the foundation for next generation IT infrastructure. Chances are good that you will have end-to-end NVMe in the future, however, in this context, several questions arise, for example, when will this future come and what should be your first step in its direction?

With new solutions coming to the market, the time has come to take full advantage of NVMe and get the most out of NVMe-oF ™ for five reasons.

It’s a bad idea to wear ski boots instead of spikes for a run.

The NVMe protocol itself is a new era in performance. The speed of storage on flash has always been higher than that of hard drives, but in a typical data center, the interface did not allow using it in full. SAS and SATA were both convenient protocols in the early days as they allowed SSDs to be used in an infrastructure built for hard drives. But these interfaces designed for hard drives were simply unable to cope with the performance of flash storage. It’s like asking an Olympic sprinter to walk the 100m in ski boots.

The next step was the introduction of the NVMe interface for SSD-drives. Designed specifically for flash, it brings increased bandwidth, efficiency, and support for parallel processing to our lives, making the most of NAND’s inherent low latency.

NVMe-enabled SSDs are continually evolving and the standard is regularly saturated with new features and specifications (e.g., zoned namespaces (ZNS)). Our latest Ultrastar® DC SN840 is a third-generation solution with a proprietary vertically integrated NVMe controller, proprietary firmware and 96-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory. This solution is future-proof: low latency and high availability of two ports allows you to use it for new data-intensive applications.

NVMe-oF: NVMe Performance Now Beyond Server

While NVMe SSDs do an excellent job of accelerating server workloads in a data center, there is one problem. To fully utilize the speed of NVMe, the SSD must be on the PCIe bus, next to the processors. PCIe cannot be extended outside the server, and even if each server individually can be accelerated, the result is mini-towers or silos of SSDs that cannot be easily shared between hosts.

NVMe-over-Fabrics (NVMe-oF for short) kicks in, heralding the next step in data center infrastructure development. NVMe-oF allows you to provide shared access to storage on NVMe for multiple hosts, and the performance parameters will be comparable to locally attached SSD-drives.

How fast does it all work? Today, we announced not only the release of our new Ultrastar® DC SN840 enterprise SSDs with NVMe support, but also the launch of the OpenFlex ™ Data24 NVMe-oF storage platform, built entirely on JBOF (Just a Bunch of Flash). stack of flash drives) with NVMe. Our Ultrastar 2U24 SAS all-flash storage platform has always been considered very fast with 4.7M IOPS, 25GB / s bandwidth and sub-millisecond latency. Although the full cycle of testing and validation of the performance of OpenFlex Data24 has not yet been completed, the early figures are very impressive. Our lab tests show performance should be around 13.2M IOPS, bandwidth 70.7 GB / s, and write latency a paltry 42 microseconds. This is where the power of NVMe technology lies when used in storage that can be accessed by multiple hosts.

NVMe-oF enables NVMe storage speed even when working with multiple hosts

NVMe-oF enables NVMe storage speed even when working with multiple hosts

Faster or cheaper? This question does not arise now

We are used to paying for extra performance. But with OpenFlex Data24, this paradigm is becoming a thing of the past. NVMe-oF technology not only supports significantly more intensive workloads that require high performance, it is also cheaper. In fact, we expect a 17% cost savings over SAS-based disk shelves. The starting point for this is our vertical integration and the chip-to-integration philosophy. I mentioned that the new SSDs are vertically integrated, from raw NAND flash to controller and native microcode, and the OpenFlex Data24 platform is entirely our own in-house, including NVMe-oF RapidFlex ™ controllers and special purpose ICs. (ASICs)

Easy implementation thanks to advanced connectivity options


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Shared storages, in which access to resources is provided to several servers at once, are often built on JBOF disk shelves. With this approach, storage can be provisioned or reallocated to suit application needs, and the complexity of organizing this shared use varies.

OpenFlex Data24 is a 2U disk enclosure that can house up to 24 NVMe DC SN840 SSDs up to 368 TB raw capacity. It also supports up to six RapidFlex NVMe-oF controllers. These controllers offer a range of connectivity benefits, including extremely low latency, support for 100 Gb Ethernet (top-notch speed you can take full advantage of right now) and low power consumption.

Up to six hosts can be connected directly without a switch, but the full range of connectivity options are available using a switch-based network topology (called a “switch fabric” or switched fabric), which allows for greater flexibility and maximum utilization.

Your first step to building composability

The entire industry strives to improve efficiency, and composable disaggregated infrastructure has become a single vector of development to achieve this goal. For us, this is part of a broader philosophy that describes the storage and processing infrastructure of tomorrow. It should not just be composable, but interoperable. OpenFlex Data24 itself is compatible with the Open Composable API and can be implemented as part of a composable disaggregated infrastructure.

In addition, together with other industry leaders, we founded the Laboratory for Open Composability and Compatibility. (Open ComposableCompatibility Lab – OCCL), whose main goal is to expand the use of the principles of composability and interoperability and to promote interoperability across the entire ecosystem of factory-bound devices. You can also join this initiative, all information is available at opencomposable.com. If you would like more information on Western Digital solutions, please fill out the form above.

From NVMe to NVMe-oF: the time has come

The OpenFlex Data24 platform, its NVMe-oF architecture and the Ultrastar DC SN840 NVMe SSDs are great reasons why it’s time for your next hardware upgrade and optimize costs and efficiency by allocating new SSDs and investing accordingly. for their purchase on multiple servers. It’s time to kick off your uncomfortable ski boots and go for a run in your new fast running shoes.

Considering implementing NVMe-oF technology? Check out these helpful resources: