Solarflare Demos NVMe Fabric Running Across TCP Connections

Mike Vizard

One of the major challenges that providers of IT infrastructure have been collectively working on is the development of a network standard for connecting NVMe-based servers and storage systems. That work has culminated in a NVMe over Fabric (NVMe-oF) 1.0 standard.

At the Flash Memory Summit 2017 conference this week, Solarflare, a provider of network interface cards (NICs), in collaboration with Samsung Semiconductor and Super Micro, demonstrated an instance of the NVMe-oF standard running over TCP connections.

Ahmet Houssein, vice president of marketing at Solarflare, says this is a significant development because the RDMA protocols being employed to create NVMe fabrics such as iWARP or RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) are not widely adopted.

“There are over 500 million Ethernet ports in the world,” says Houssein. “But hardly any of them support RDMA.”

By focusing on TCP networks, Houssein says, network fabrics based on NVMe will see much broader levels of adoption at a much faster rate. Alternatively, Houssein notes that he expects NVMe fabrics to be deployed over legacy Fibre channel connections.

NVMe-based systems are expected to begin to be widely deployed in 2018. But it may be a while longer before all those systems can share a common storage network. The good news is that once NVMe-oF become validated, chances are the cost of deploying it over TCP is going to be a whole lot less expensive than most existing storage networking technologies.


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