Is NVMe the Future of SSD Technology?
NVMe was the buzz word of 2021 when it comes to storage drive technology. More data centres and businesses are looking to NVMe drives to implement a faster and more efficient IT infrastructure. NVMe is often chosen above other, older SSD technologies such as SATA and SAS due to the increased data transfer rate, which is becoming increasingly important in our day-to-day lives.
Growing Popularity for NVMe
The growing popularity in NVMe drives mirrors the increasing demand for data that we are currently experiencing. As our need to process more information accelerates, we require faster technology to cope with the constantly rising flow of data being uploaded, downloaded, and processed.
In terms of speed, NVMe is the fastest choice when examining today’s market as it is currently up to six times quicker than the next-fastest SSD option, SAS and up to 10 times faster than a SATA drive. This is because NVMe has access to up to 64 data queue channels compared to the one of SATA and SAS. With SATA, this single command queue caps the data transfer rate at 6Gb/s, whereas NVMe is free of this limitation.
With such an increased capacity for data transfer, it is easy to see why many companies around the globe are turning to NVMe technology for their IT infrastructure.
It is predicted that by the end of 2023, over 91% of SSDs in enterprise data centres around the world will be NVMe drives. As it currently sits, there are over 7.2 million data centres in the world. Data centres are capable of housing and operating between hundreds to even hundreds of thousands of servers. With 91% of these servers, across millions of data centres, transitioning to using NVMe by the end of 2023, we can see the sheer quantity of NVMe drives that will be manufactured and used globally.
With numbers as mind boggling as those above, it is highly likely that in the next decade we will see manufacturers and resellers turn away from older forms of SSD technology in favour of NVMe.
We can already see a shift in manufacturers’ mindsets towards NVMe technology. For example, Apple’s MacBook Pro 16’ completely bypassed SATA technology in favour of NVMe storage. With large companies making the decision to step away from other forms of SSD, the growth of NVMe could mean the end for older technologies on a consumer, and even enterprise, level over the course of the next decade.
The latest generation of servers from popular brands, (e.g., Dell, HPE and IBM) all accept both SATA and SAS as a form of storage drive, as well as NVMe. This means that the choice, in terms of data centre technology, remains with the user. So, with the changes in storage drive trends we are seeing in the market, is it worth upgrading your SSD to NVMe?
When is NVMe the Right Choice?
NVMe is an essential component for businesses that need near-instant access to data for the effective running of their organisations. The finance sector is a key example of this; in many cases, the extra seconds it takes to execute orders or access data could have drastic consequences for financial firms. The more time taken in which the user interface transfers data between IT infrastructure, to enact commands, could result in a change of purchase or sale price for stocks or the loss of clients if data cannot be accessed quickly enough.
Businesses that require a high level of customer service. For ecommerce, the insurance industry, healthcare and more, instant access to a client’s saved information is essential to maintain quality customer service.
AI and machine learning are reliant on field-programmable arrays, custom integrated circuits, and graphical processing units. Because of this the large bandwidth and low latency of NVMe SSDs are essential for the prevention of bottlenecking within these industries. The same can be said of any industry using applications that require extensive data transfer - but which also experience performance constraints with their technology. To reduce the frequency and impact of bottlenecks for any organisation’s IT system, NVMe technology is important to consider.
However, NVMe is nowhere near as capable as SATA or SAS in terms of compatibility. SATA and SAS drives are compatible with the majority of motherboards, meaning that your current technology will likely be able to work with either SSD. For NVMe, only the latest generations of server are compatible and so upgrading to NVMe storage could mean an expensive upheaval of your current technology. In this case, upgrading the capacity and speed of your SATA or SAS SSD may be the better option.
What Can NVMe do for you?
The popularity of NVMe, and example-use cases, means very little without understanding what NVMe can do for you and your business. In terms of business development and futureproofing your technology, NVMe is worth considering:
1). NVMe offers twice the performance of SATA drives. SATA data transfer rate is capped at 6Gb/s. In comparison, NVMe can transfer up to up to 15.8Gb/s. NVMe also demonstrates a faster IOPs speed through the use of the PCIe interface on your motherboard.
2). By increasing the SSD performance per watt, NVMe technology improves the energy efficiency of your device for a more productive server as a whole and a reduction in power requirements.
3). NVMe SSDs are just as easy to source as SATA or SAS drives and with the boosted performance and capabilities they offer, it is worth considering NVMe where possible. As the popularity of NVMe grows and more devices are made compatible with this form of component, we will see NVMe become more prominent on the market.
Whether you are creating your IT system or upgrading your existing infrastructure, NVMe is worth the investment to enhance the performance of your technology. With current trends demonstrating a rise in popularity for NVMe SSDs, this newer form of storage drive appears to be the future of SSD technology.