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NVMe Storage - Understanding the Protocol That Redefines Storage Architecture

Mohammed NaserMohammed Naser

VEXXHOST has adopted NVMe Storage for our Montreal region recently. In this context, here is an overview of the storage protocol. Read more.

VEXXHOST has adopted NVMe Storage for our Montreal region recently. In this context, here is an overview of the storage protocol.

There is a need for faster storage and processing of data with the rapid growth in various IT services. Cloud computing is no different. Technology, such as AI, machine learning, IoT, etc., require real-time data using higher bandwidths. The advance of NVMe storage protocol as a much faster and efficient alternative is gaining popularity and accessibility.

Let us examine how this revolution in storage architecture came about.

The Evolution up to NVMe Storage

NVMe protocol is relatively new, yes. To comprehend how the protocol came about, we need to take a step back and look at the advancement of access protocols in Hard Disk Drive (HDD) technology.

To reduce changes in HDD based storage systems, the initial flash-based SSDs took advantage of legacy SATA/SAS interfaces, form factors, and protocols. But, these were not designed to handle high-speed storage media such as persistent memory or NAND. Hence, PCIe was chosen later as the ideal storage interface. PCIe came with the advantages of proximity to the CPU, better storage media performance, and interface speed.

PCIe's direct connection to the CPU makes for running an efficient software stack and provides memory-like access. Yet, PCIe interface SSDs in early versions were not adequate to industry standards. Since such applications leveraged proprietary firmware, system scaling proved challenging. It is in such a scenario that the NVMe protocol emerged.

What is NVMe Storage, and How Does It Work?

NVMe stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express. It is a new transport and storage access protocol that works on flash and next-gen SSDs (Solid State Drives). It is a highly scalable, NUMA (Non Uniform Memory Access) optimized, high-performance storage protocol. It connects the host to a memory subsystem efficiently and is built on high-speed PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) lanes.

The NVMe protocol uses low latency and parallel data paths to access the media, offering higher performance. The working structure and architecture of it are similar to high-performance processors. Traditional protocols used many CPU cycles to access data for applications. This wasn't very cost-effective for companies. NVMe is capable of handling rigorous workloads within the same kind of infrastructure.

Benefits of NVMe

As mentioned before, NVMe leverages not only SSD storage systems but also the capabilities of advanced multi-core CPUs with extensive memory. It is a scalable alternative working beyond the four lanes that are found in most conventional PCIe SSDs.

NVMe drives have the capability to work at speeds upwards of 2,000 MB/s in comparison to the typical SATA III SSD, which runs at 600MB/s. This is possible because the interaction with flash memory is done through a PCIe interface.

NVMe can also take advantage of streamlined command sets that can analyze and process data efficiently. Additionally, NVMe is power-efficient. It helps reduce power usage by significant percentages when the system is in standby mode.

NVMe can handle tougher workloads with greater ease. This will allow for much better output and accelerate business growth for enterprises. Enterprise can also preserve their existing IT infrastructure investment after the addition of NVMe technology into operation.

In short, NVMe saves time, money, power, and resources for organizations, and these are the reasons behind its advance and popularity.


At VEXXHOST, we are proud to have upgraded from SSD to NVMe for our Montreal region. This switch was announced at the Open Infrastructure Summit 2020 and is a major part of our new public cloud revamp.

We want to highlight that we made the switch from SSD to NVMe without any downtime for users. There was no action necessary from the user's side. We used Ceph to facilitate the switch without downtime. The only change the users felt was better speed and performance after the upgrade.

The new NVMe upgrade has already given a boost to our public cloud and private cloud solutions. Get in touch with team VEXXHOST and learn more about our cloud solutions.

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