Good Memories from the Flash Memory Summit.

As part of the SNIA PCIe Taskforce and SSSI Governing Board, I had the pleasure of attending the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, CA a few weeks ago.  The event itself was very well organized with tons of great sessions and very bright people presenting those sessions.  The caliber of content was not only high quality, but it was highly relevant and attendees, such as myself, were constantly challenged in their thinking on what NVM Express, PCIe, and SSD's will bring to the table from an Enterprise and Consumer standpoint.  It was nice to hear the collaborative efforts on this disruptive technology and exciting to hear how it will be a complete game changer.

 

Alongside my industry cohorts, I had the opportunity to speak on a technical panel at the start of the show at the SNIA SSSI PCIe reception which was very well received.  I personally discussed the SNIA Analytics & Big Data Summit Committee which I co-chair.  InformationWeek's Kevin Fogarty stated it well when he said that "Big data has become more than the hot buzzword in a technology sector still adapting to the fundamental changes created by the last wave of disruptive technologies–virtualization, cloud computing, mobile computing, and BYOD consumerization. Whether they’re prepared to deal with it or not, even mid-size companies have to face big data, not for the benefits it could offer, but because nearly all corporate data has become “big,” according to reports from Ventana Research, Forrester, and other analysts.  Stereotypically big data sets–defined as any data set too large for conventional databases or analytical tools–are inflated with status reports, error messages, activity logs, and other data from the “Internet of Things,” according to a seminal report from McKinsey & Co."

 

Furthermore, as we have seen, Solid State Technology has become an integral part in the planning for IT storage folks.  There are different implementations available for both storage and the use of solid state technology, so it's imperative to understand the system level characteristics and the performance required.  There are many benefits of PCIe as an SSD Interface. The first most commonly known benefit is that PCIe is high performance.  It supports full duplex, multiple outstanding requests, and out of 
order processing. PCIe has scalable port width (x1 to x16) as well as scalable link speed (2.5 GTps, 5 GTps, 8 GTps) and has low latency with no HBA overhead or protocol translation.  PCIe is also low cost in that is uses high volume commodity interconnects and is direct attached to the CPU subsystem which eliminates HBA cost. Finally, PCIe provides effective power management because, again, it is direct attached to the CPU subsystem which eliminates HBA cost, supports link power management, has an optimized Buffer Flush / Fill (OBFF), features power budgeting and dynamic power allocation, and finally it has slot power limit.

 

NVMe defines an optimized queuing interface, command set, and feature set for PCIe SSDs which is architected to scale from client to enterprise.  Standardization accelerates industry adoption.  For one, Standard drivers eliminate need for OEMs to qualify a driver for each SSD and they enable broad adoption across a wide range of industry standard and proprietary operating systems.  NVMe also has consistent feature set in that all SSDs implement required features
and optional features are implemented in a consistent manner.  Finally, from an industry ecosystem
 perspective there are Development tools
available and Compliance and interoperability testing.

 

Our NVMe Promotors Group had two of our members take a different approach and provide observations through the eyes of someone new to the Storage market and through the eyes of a seasoned veteran.  Here is what we got!

 

Storage Newbie - Wow! There are a lot of people attending Flash Memory Summit. As someone new to the industry, I didn’t realize so much was taking place… Big Data, Cloud… Petabytes are the new Terabytes, Exabytes???... The next generation of Flash… There are definitely opportunities for NVM technologies and it’s great to see the industry rallying behind them. While the Keynotes and Tutorials provided great information, my highlight of the show was the turnout at the sessions discussing NVM Express. Over 150 attendees packed the room to hear about NVM Express from experts from Dell, EMC, IDT, Intel, LSI, Microsoft, NetApp, Oracle, STEC and University of New Hampshire Inter-Operability Lab. From the discussion, it’s obvious, there is a lot of interest in NVM Express from the industry. Can’t wait to get to the Intel Developers Forum, September 11-13  with 14 companies and SNIA participating in the NVM Express Showcase to show how quickly this technology is coming to market. 

Seasoned Veteran - FMS = Awesome! This show keeps getting bigger every year!  Hot items this year were SSD’s, the Cloud, and the next generation of NVM technologies.  NVM Express is generating a tremendous amount of interest and is being supported from key industry leaders like Dell, EMC, IDT, Micron, Intel, LSI, Microsoft, NetApp, Oracle, STEC, Cisco, Samsung, Marvell, and SanDisk.  NVM Express keynotes and tracks provided information about what is possible and there was a packed room to hear what all the experts had to say.  With the strong implementation of NVM SSD’s in the enterprise market I’m excited to see how NVM Express can help to boost performance.  I look forward to next week for the Intel Developers Forum September 11-13 in San Francisco at the Moscone center, so I can learn more and meet with the NVM Express experts at the NVM express Showcase.

There you have it. Looks like the Newbie and the Vet had a great time at Flash Memory Summit and there is strong interest in NVM Express. Hope to see you at the Intel Developers Forum this week in San Francisco!