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May 2019, Vol. 17, No. 10

Understanding the NVMe performance problem

NVMe has a lot to offer enterprise storage systems. The technology improves flash storage performance by increasing command count and queue depths while using PCIe as its primary interconnect. It is a protocol that works both inside a server and outside, and it is networkable for shared storage environments. The NVMe performance improvement most organizations will see is a reduction in latency. That latency reduction is so significant that the protocol exposes other weaknesses in the storage infrastructure. Storage ecosystem problems Storage architectures typically contain storage media, in this case, NVMe flash; storage software to drive the storage system; and the storage network, which externally connects storage to other elements in the data center like servers. In the HDD era, and even in the SAS-based flash era, the performance of these components could hide behind the latency of the storage media. With NVMe flash, however, media latency is almost eliminated, and the resource overhead created by these components is exposed...

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