SATA and SAS were designed primarily for hard disk drives (HDDs) that have very different characteristics than solid state drives (SSDs). As such, the host controller architectures are required to have a significant hardware stack that translates storage I/O commands and queues from HDD to SSD, creating overhead and adding latency.
NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a new and standardized storage protocol that was built especially for accessing high-speed storage media, like flash. As such, NVMe does not have the same overhead. NVMe allows for the host to directly intercept CPU memory, thereby reducing latency and increasing performance.
Furthermore, NVMe can support up to eight lanes of I/O traffic(!) between the host and the CPU, creating greater throughput and minimizing impact of lane failure.
NVMe on Path to Domination
Some industry analysts are predicting that Essential NVMe, a lower performance and lower cost version of today’s NVMe speedy “race cars,” will reach price-parity with SATA SSDs soon.
Given the differences between SATA and NVMe, these prognosticators might be right. Due to its “race car” status or not, the projections for NVMe-based enterprise SSDs is on a rapid rise.
Nearly every operating system now supports the NVMe driver software, and most server providers have PCIe slots in their systems for front-loaded U.2 NVMe drives.
Some SSD makers are also shipping dual-ported NVMe drives that allow storage array manufacturers to create next-generation systems with blazing performance that leave SAS-based arrays in their dust.
If you are curious about why NVMe is a serious alternative to SATA or SAS, take two minutes to check out this video.
NVMe will be a key differentiator in doing more with data – faster insights; near real-time possibilities; and even reducing footprint. Western Digital’s breadth of expertise and level of vertical innovation give us an unmatched ability to deliver carefully calibrated NVMe SSDs for our partners, as well as in-house developed storage platforms and fully featured flash storage systems to help you harness the potential of data.
Walter (Walt) Hinton is Senior Global Director of Enterprise & Client Compute Solutions Marketing at Western Digital. He is responsible for Solutions Marketing, aligning a broad platform of storage devices to traditional and emerging data center applications. With a unique background in cloud-based services operations, product development and marketing, Walt leads a non-traditional team of Data Champions who focus on “how things work” with technical proof points, not marketing hype. Over a 25-year career in data storage, he has helped build successful startups like McDATA, ManagedStorage International and Virident Systems. He also served as Chief Strategist at StorageTek, partnering across the industry to foster the creation of the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA).