If 282-page doc on new NVMe drive spec is tl;dr, you're in luck

What are we getting? Endurance

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NVMe drives could last longer because of a feature in the new NVM v1.3 specification (282-page PDF).

The spec's new features are:

  • Sanitise to erase SSD-stored data – optional
  • Virtualisation to assign SSD storage to virtual machines – optional
  • Streams: optimise data placement to increase endurance for NAND-based SSDs – optional
  • Device self-test – optional
  • Boot partitions – optional
  • Telemetry – optional
  • Management enhancements – optional
  • Identify namespace: return list of Namespace Identifiers to host – mandatory
  • Host-controlled thermal management: mechanism for host to configure controller to automatically transition between active power states or perform vendor-specific thermal management actions – optional
  • Timestamp – optional
  • Emulated controller performance enhancement: not typically supported by a physical/hardware-based NVMe controller – optional

For the virtualisation feature, the NVMe model has primary controllers (which may be SR-IOV Physical Functions) and secondary controllers (which may be SR-IOV Virtual Functions) that may be used to flexibly assign resources, like queues, from a primary controller to a secondary controller.

NVMe_Streams_problem

Streams is the first implementation of a new Directives feature. It means a host can tell an NVMe drive to group (store together) data blocks from a drive user (app) and keep them separate from other users. This can reduce write amplification and so lengthen the drive's endurance.

NVMe_Streams_Solution

We may have to wait until 2019 for products supporting the v1.3 spec to arrive. Download the 282-page specification here and a v1.3 changes document here. Slides from an NVMe v1.3 webcast can be seen here. ®

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