NVMe Flash: A New Level of High-Performance Data Consistency for the World’s Most Demanding Workloads

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This guest post from Kingston Technology explores how innovation in storage like NVMe are working to keep up with the most demanding data work loads. 

The pace of today’s data growth is staggering. According to IDC, by 2025, the global data footprint will reach a staggering 163 zettabytes, roughly an order of magnitude increase over current figures, with a significant majority of future data designated either ‘critical’ or ‘hypercritical’ to daily human activities. Static budgets and shrinking data center footprints, as well as new deployment models such as edge computing, continue to challenge IT departments to get creative.

Good news!

That is exactly what happened, and the innovation continues. In tandem with the growing deluge over the past decade, flash storage, digital data acceleration technology based on solid-state chips, has migrated from consumer devices such as mobile phones into the world’s servers via ubiquitous PCI-Express (PCIe) ports to significantly accelerate application performance.

NVMe flash

Kingston’s forthcoming DCU1000 U.2 PCIe NVMe SSD.

The problem?

As data leaves the server to go back out across the network to be of use, data performance precipitously declines. Outdated protocols such as SCSI and SATA specifications originally designed to trick spinning disks into processing data faster in software posed a significant problem. The tactics and strategies meant to increase disk-based storage performance choked out the performance improvements taking place inside the server.  

However, with the introduction of new Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) specifications for solid-state drive data acceleration solutions, old protocols have been written out of the code to create the clearest data path possible. Simultaneously, flash storage has come to increasingly dominate all performance-oriented data center processes, creating an entirely direct digital data pipeline.

In addition, strategies developed by Intel Platform Testing Services to deliver the world’s most reliable, high-performance DRAM are being employed to work harmoniously with NVMe resulting in monumental advancements in performance reliability. Rigorous test scenarios in varying harsh conditions ─ is your environment Fargo cold or Death Valley hot? ─ help guarantee the consistency of high-speed throughput across various data center platforms and environments.

In a recent use case, Kingston Technology worked with a major Hollywood studio to accelerate the production pipeline for an upcoming television series. Production specialists were struggling to meet the tight deadlines associated with serial broadcast, with our thirst for binge-worthy television fueling record spending on streaming content. Netflix alone has an $8 billion content budget to spend in 2018.

After nine weeks of principal photography on the yet-to-air series, the Kingston PCIe NVMe solid-state drive deployment resulted in:

  • 8x increase in camera/sound data transfer speeds (3700MB/s vs 250MB/s)
  • More efficient use of digital image technician (DIT) time for other duties (color, video)
  • 6x reduction in video set-to-lab ingestion time (1.6TB in 12 minutes)
  • Significant end-of-day reduction in video transfer times for DIT (1.25TB in 5 minutes)
  • Development of the technology for future application
  • Decrease in additional department idle time at wrap waiting for DIT to complete
  • Enable editing 8K raw media workstations

PCIe NVMe delivers strong benefits across industry verticals, anywhere data performance is a prerequisite for success, but keep in mind that every IT environment is different. A hyperscale shop may sacrifice reliability for the sake of cost, while IT users in HPC data centers invest heavily in the most reliable, highest density solid-state drive acceleration available; traditional enterprise environments may seek to strike a balance between the two.

PCIe NVMe delivers strong benefits across industry verticals, anywhere data performance is a prerequisite for success, but keep in mind that every IT environment is different.

Industry adoption of PCIe NVMe will further bridge the way from today’s cloud-centric, unstructured database or big data compute environments to emerging applications in machine learning and artificial intelligence, 4K and 8K digital media processing, new applications in virtual and augmented reality, and much more.

As with any innovation in IT, PCIe NVMe migration is not without its challenges, and guaranteeing your provider has a wide range of in-house experience is essential to success. Making certain simple, easy access to these experts, strong warranties, and other quality of service safeguards are built into your contract is key to preparing your data center architecture with solid-state drive performance, robust DRAM and reliability across the digital data pipeline.

More insight can be found here, or visit Kingston during VMworld 2018 (booth #2313).