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March 2018, Vol. 17, No. 1

NVMe SSDs: Is there a need for all this speed?

For many years, SAS and SATA HDDs have been the data center's media of choice. The introduction of NAND flash has pushed SAS and SATA devices to their performance limits due to restrictions of the storage protocol. To fully exploit flash, the storage industry created a new protocol -- nonvolatile memory express. This architecture lets storage array vendors and end users unlock the performance potential of both flash and new solid-state media, delivering better performance from NVMe SSDs and other storage devices. Protocol background Storage device protocols have evolved in both server and consumer-based devices. Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) developed from PC architecture, which became PATA (Parallel ATA) and then SATA (Serial ATA) that we know today. SCSI was developed in the late 1970s as a server-based connection for HDDs and other storage devices like tape. All of this evolved into Serial-Attached SCSI, or SAS. SCSI is the underlying storage protocol for Fibre Channel-based SANs and iSCSI Ethernet networks. (We'll ...

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