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Top 10 NVMe flash storage stories of 2017

NVMe promises to unleash flash storage to previously unheard-of performance. In this top 10 Computer Weekly NVMe flash stories of 2017, we track this rapidly emerging technology

The past 12 months have been fascinating in the world of flash storage. Flash revolutionised datacentres with huge performance increases over spinning disk, but now NVMe brings the potential to unleash flash, with performance once again boosted.

For the first time in a long time, the performance bottleneck in the input/output chain does not lie with storage media. The key roadblock is now in the ability of storage array controllers to carry out processing quickly enough to allow NVMe-equipped hardware to realise its potential.

So far, there has been no consensus on how to address the issue and big storage players have largely steered clear of committing themselves. But, that will not remain the case for long, and 2018 should see some consolidation, technically and in terms of supplier presence.

1. NVMe’s predicted ascendancy clouded by architectural hurdles

Market research that predicts an annual growth rate for NVMe-based products of 95% per annum between 2015 and 2020. But what is an “NVMe array” and can storage hardware makers solve the issues that stand in the way of delivering them?

2. NVMe flash blocked by array architecture, says Kaminario CTO

Flash pioneer CTO says array controllers are built for a different era and must scale-out as clusters to provide the central processing unit (CPU) power needed to allow NVMe to realise its potential.

3. Is hyper-converged the answer to the NVMe bottleneck?

NVMe could allow flash storage to work at tens or hundreds of times what is possible now. But, with no universally accepted architecture to allow the PCIe-based protocol for flash to be used in shared storage, is hyper-converged the answer?

4. Tegile says NVMe bottleneck is in the network

Tegile’s chief technology officer says the NVMe roadmap is all in place, but the key bottleneck is in the network and the applications – not its controllers. They’re ready to scale out into clusters for NVMe.

5. Storage briefing: NVMe vs SATA and SAS

This briefing explains where NVMe’s blistering performance gains over existing HDD-era disk protocols come from and its key benefits over existing flash technologies.

6. Storage briefing: NVMe-over-fabrics vs Fibre Channel, Ethernet, Infiniband

NVMe-over-fabrics takes the built-for-flash advantages of the PCIe-based protocol, and allows NVMe to be sent via Fibre Channel, Ethernet and Infiniband networks.

7. NVMe flash storage: What are the deployment options?

NVMe offers to unleash performance potential of flash storage that is held back by spinning disk-era SAS and SATA protocols. We run through the key NVMe deployment options.

8. Does NVMe signal the end of the storage controller?

NVMe could boost flash storage performance, but controller-based storage architectures are a bottleneck. Does hyper-converged infrastructure give a clue to the solution?

9. E8 dodges NVMe/controller bottleneck with server processing

Startup E8 announces v2 of its NVMe-based products with LUNs, Raid and thin provisioning as it sidesteps the NVMe-controller bottleneck by offloading processing to app servers.

10. Vexata launches VX NVMe physical and virtual appliances

Startup claims near-bare metal NVMe performance by offloading controller functionality to multiple CPUs on back-end storage with an optimised Linux-based operating system. 

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