IBM pushes NVMe solutions to speed up data transfers

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IBM Corp. says it’s taking the lead in the development of new Non-Volatile Memory Express solutions that can support faster data transfers.

The company said on Sunday that NVMe is well on the way to replacing older protocols for solid state data storage, such as SATA and SAS. These seemingly ancient protocols were introduced back in the days when floppy disks were all the rage, and the amount of data in the world was a mere trickle by today’s standards. They’re extremely outdated, in other words.

Nowadays, the world is flooded with torrents of data. Petabyte-scale data centers are not uncommon, and personal computers boasting up to a terabyte of storage are more or less the new standard, which means it’s time to adopt the new NVMe protocol in order to avoid data bottlenecks, says IBM. NVMe is able to cope with much larger data transfers than the older SATA and SAS protocols because it employs parallelism to simultaneously process data across a network of devices, instead of using a set number of channels. The result is that NVMe leads to “significantly reduced” delays when large volumes of data move through flash storage systems, the company added.

With the rise of new NVMe solutions, IBM says clients will gain the ability to “significantly lower latencies in an effort to speed data to and from storage solutions and systems.” IBM is so confident of this that it reckons other vendors will soon be forced to adopt the same standards or risk becoming irrelevant.

IBM said its developers are currently retooling the end-to-end storage stack to support this new, faster interconnect protocol for a range of use cases, including cloud services, banking, retail and travel. By doing so, the company says it should be able to deliver the kind of low-latency data processing that today’s workloads demand.

IBM’s Spectrum Scale software already can deliver NVMe capabilities through its local read-only cache feature, which works by keeping data in reserve with very low latency, thereby improving application performance. However, the company said it plans to introduce a new range of NVMe solutions by the first half of 2018.

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