NVMe Excels with Tough Workloads (and we have the data to prove it)

By Doug Rollins - 2018-02-06

If you resolved to update your data center storage by installing some new, fast, SSDs you’ve probably found a lot of choice. It makes a lot of sense to start with the basics: interface choices. Are you leaning towards SATA, SAS or NVMe? Decisions…decisions…

SATA and SAS been around for decades, tracing their roots back through years of spinning storage, back to some very early interfaces.

NVMe is the new kid, having been around for a fraction as long as SATA and SAS. NVMe is a popular kid. It’s a flash-tuned, rising star in the SSD interface world (OK, I made that up…there’s no “SSD interface world” but let’s go with it).

NVMe’s star is bright and rising very, very quickly. G2M Research showed how quickly:

Source: Fall 2017 NVMe Market Sizing Report (G2M Research; Sept. 15, 2017)

So, is NVMe an SSD panacea? Not quite yet. But NVMe makes high-performance, high-capacity SSDs truly compelling.

Where does NVMe excel? I’m glad you asked! Let’s look at a few…

RedHat Ceph Storage

My colleague Ryan Meredith took RedHat Ceph Storage (beta 3.0 version) for a test drive, fueled by our latest, super-performance NVMe SSDs. A small, NVMe-based cluster with oodles of network bandwidth made the test drive fast. Really, really fast. For all the details, be sure to read Ryan's blog. Here’s the short version:

When you’re done digesting those numbers, maybe take another look at the cluster details in Ryan’s blog – four 1U storage nodes (six NVMe SSDs in each) and three 1U monitor nodes.


Open-source database OLTP workload results look great with NVMe! As I noted in this blog, these systems are broadly deployed and very flexible with extensive community support. NVMe SSDs bring amazing results to MySQL and OLTP.

Sure, we expect MySQL platforms to respond quicker with NVMe. How much quicker was a bit of a surprise. We tested two NVMe configurations and one legacy configuration (just as a level set).


Quick summary: NVMe goes like a rocket! Take a look at the comparisons. Then tell me which one you’d pick (I know which one I’d pick). You can probably guess this but in case not – blue bars are NVMe (grey bar is the legacy)

There’s a ton more detail in this Technical Brief if you’re looking to double-click on the details.

OLTP on Ceph RDB (…with Docker, too!)

Wait! Docker? Why Docker? Because Docker is cool (well, OK there are lots of techie reasons like containerization, easy deployment and the like, but seriously – Docker is cool).

Ceph Storage v12.2.1 (Luminous) plus the hardware from our IOPS Optimized Ceph Reference Architecture and containerized MySQL servers. Cool, right?

Nearly linear scaling and more than a million transactions per minute (TPM) with ten servers while maintaining very low latency, even cooler.

Check out another of Ryan’s blogs for the details on this one.

Apache Cassandra®

I wrote about how NVMe™ SSDs help with massive scale NoSQL work, too. When our data set is huge – either a local data set or a remote one in the cloud, without performance-focused storage massive-scale data is little more than an archive. It just sits there, enabling little useful value.

Small-scale data sets are easy. Small enough to fit in available memory? Performance is straight forward – load it into memory and go. Storage system capability is less important.

Immense data sets are harder. As our data sets grow, a dwindling percentage of it affordably fits into memory. This can be a troubling trend.

This is where high capacity, high performance NVMe SSDs can help. When you scale your local or cloud based Apache Cassandra deployment, you can get more out of it with NVMe SSDs. I also posted a Technical Brief with the configuration and testing details.

A few final thoughts…

Greg Shulz (founder and Sr. Advisory Analyst of independent IT advisory consultancy firm, Server StorageIO) and I discussed where NVMe SSDs fit (and a host of other NVMe topics) in “Where NVMe Should Be in Your Data Center.” We both agreed that “… NVMe…enables the SSD to better optimize command execution for much higher concurrent IOPS.”

We also believe “…NVMe will co-exist along with SAS, SATA and other server storage I/O technologies for some time to come.”

NVMe is the new kid and its star is bright and rising fast.  SATA and SAS aren’t leaving us tomorrow.  Or the next day.  But NVMe is the new kid, and NVMe SSDs.

NVMe sits squarely at the top of storage, driving flash potential and adoption info broad range of real world applications, workloads.  NVMe drives real, tangible value into all corners of the Enterprise.

Where is NVMe driving value for you? Where do you think it will be? I’d like to hear from you. Tweet me @GreyHairStorage or connect with Micron on Twitter @MicronStorage and on LinkedIn.

Doug Rollins

Doug Rollins

Doug Rollins is a principal technical marketing engineer for Micron's Storage Business Unit, with a focus on enterprise solid-state drives. He’s an inventor, author, public speaker and photographer. Follow Doug on Twitter: @GreyHairStorage.