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Flash slab lab blab: NVMe-friendly PCIe spotted on HGST's cards

Intel and EMC fashionably late to solid-state cache party

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Blocks and Files Samsung and Micron have announced NVMe-compatible PCIe flash storage cards - and now hardware from WD subsidiary HGST has been certified as conformant to the specification.

The emergence of the three products signals that new tech spec NVMe is becoming the standard way for software to control and efficiently access PCIe-connected solid-state drives: the standard allows the host operating system to run one driver that manages all NVMe-compatible devices fitted. The alternative is loading various drivers specific to particular pieces of flash hardware, which is a mess.

The HGST and Samsung cards were given the thumbs up by the University of New Hampshire's interoperability testing laboratory in May. But HGST hasn't announced any PCIe flash products with or without NVMe compatibility.

It does have a line of 12Gbit/s SAS-interface Ultrastar solid-state drives, though. It is also getting the VeloBit HyperCache flash caching technology as a result of WD buying VeloBit.

On top of that HGST will get sTec's caching software and line of Kronos and S1120 PCIe products if WD's sTec acquisition goes ahead. The lab results indicate that HGST already has a PCIe flash card product with an NVMe interface. The addition of sTEc and VeloBit technologies will make that offering, when it goes on sale, even stronger.

We can surely look forward to Intel, LSI and SanDisk NVMe-conformant hardware shortly; all three are in the NVM Express organisation and have PCIe flash card interests. So too is EMC and it's likely that its VFCache product will become NVMe-conformant. PCIe flash suppliers are going to be jostling to get customers' attention. ®

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