IBM Makes NVMe Commitment

Mike Vizard

By the first half of next year, IBM is promising to have developed a complete range of NVMe-based storage offerings that should significantly accelerate the transition to all-Flash storage systems.

Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer and vice president of marketing and management for IBM storage and software-defined infrastructure, says IBM has already developed several technologies that will be key to making that transition. But once processors that support NVMe are available in volume later this year, Herzog says, IBM expects a rapid shift to NVMe not only because of improved I/O performance, but also better utilization of processor cores. That latter capability should provide a major economic incentive to make the transition to NVMe because most application providers based their licensing schemes on the number of CPU cores consumed by their application.

In general, Herzog says he doesn’t expect storage consumption to fundamentally change once that transition is made. Flash storage will continue to be plugged directly into servers as well as storage systems attached to the network once NVMe fabric technologies mature. The only real shift will come in terms of the various types of Flash memory technologies that will be employed. Today the preponderance of storage in the enterprise is based on magnetic storage. While there will still be magnetic storage systems attached to NVMe in the future, reliance on Flash storage will increase exponentially once NVMe becomes prevalent.

Beyond eliminating the need for SAS and SATA interfaces for accessing storage devices, it’s hard to say with any certainty just how NVMe will transform system designs. Herzog says also doesn’t expect to see much change in the types of servers being acquired either. While there has been a significant adoption of hyperconverged infrastructure that combines compute and storage in a single system, Herzog says demand for those types of systems is starting to flatten out. As a result, Herzog says, IBM expects to see both HCI and traditional rack-based systems deployed in the data center for years to come.

Whatever the ultimate outcome, however, the one thing that is for certain is that the days when CPU cores sat idle waiting on storage devices to catch up are near an end.


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