Watch out SSDs, here comes the NVM Express!

I was reading an article on the Information Week Web site about using SSDs for accelerating enterprise storage and came across this statement:

“For the most part, the type of SSD that you use in the storage system does not in a significant way impact the performance that you should expect from that tier of storage. The only challenges that form-factor SSDs have are size and power disadvantages vs. other purpose-built designs that look more like memory modules than drives. A flash chip does not need the same volume of space that a HDD needs, does nor does it need the same amount of power. The cost to get to market quickly is a loss of that space and power efficiency.”

That is one of the philosophies behind a relatively new SSD interface spec called NVM Express (NVMe for short). Here’s the NVMe site’s description of the new spec, for comparison:

“The NVM Express specification, developed cooperatively by more than 80 companies from across the industry, was released on March 1, 2011 by the NVMHCI Work Group; now more commonly known as the NVMe Work Group. The NVM Express 1.0 specification defines an optimized register interface, command set and feature set for PCI Express Solid-State Drives (SSDs). The goal is to help enable the broad adoption of solid-state drives (SSDs) using the PCI Express (PCIe) interface.”

You see, SSD interface specs such as SATA and SAS try to make flash look like hard drives. The inherent structure of a hard drive such as sectoring is an integral part of these disk-based specifications because that’s where they trace their roots. Re-using the SATA and SAS specs for SSDs was an expedient thing to do, but the existence of the NVMe spec says “We can do better.”

About sleibson2

EDA360 Evangelist and Marketing Director at Cadence Design Systems (blog at
This entry was posted in Flash, NVM Express, NVMe, SSD and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Watch out SSDs, here comes the NVM Express!

  1. Cameron Brett says:

    When will we start seeing NVMe devices, and will they be PCI card or 2.5″ FF?

  2. Pingback: Cadence adds 12Gbps SAS and NVM Express verification IP to its VIP catalog | Denali Memory Report

  3. Pingback: NVM Express (NVMe) controller subsystem points the way to an SSD future | Denali Memory Report

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s