NVMe SSDs have been around for several years and leveraged in enterprise data centers (as in-server storage) through to laptop applications. However, until now it’s been impossible to scale NVMe beyond the rack and across the data center, leaving data stranded on storage islands. In June 2016, NVMe.org ratified the NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) standard which enables Enterprises with storage area networks (SANs) to take advantage of low-latency NVMe SSDs by using a fabric as an attach point to the host rather than using PCI Express. This approach enables NVMe to scale to potentially thousands of SSDs.
NVMe over Fabrics options include Fibre Channel, Ethernet (RDMA), InfiniBand and OmniPath. Broadcom was a key contributor to the NVMe-oF standard and contributed FC-NVMe Linux Extensions.
NVMe over Fibre Channel is a natural choice for datacenters; it is easy to implement on existing FC networks with a simple driver update. No burdensome infrastructure changes or additional training is required. Most significantly, data centers can leverage the lossless, high-performance Fibre Channel protocol that was built to easily scale to thousands of nodes to get low-latency connectivity for NVMe SSDs that outperforms other protocols, especially under load.
The Emulex-branded Gen 6 HBAs by Broadcom offer a simple way to transition to NVMe with dual-mode HBAs supporting both NVMe and SCSI drives, concurrently, which enables datacenters to transition to all-flash arrays at their own pace. Learn more in this video.