NVM Express™: What’s in Store for 2019?


By Janene Ellefson, NVM Express Marketing Workgroup Co-Chair

Deemed “the new language of storage,” NVM Express saw a year of recognition and implementation in 2018, with more than 100 companies offering NVMe™ enabled products. Looking forward to 2019, NVMe is not expected to plateau; in fact, most analysts and industry experts anticipate this will be the year of NVMe™ over Fabrics (NVMe-oF™). With NVMe-oF technology increasing in popularity, G2M Research predicts that NVMe market will consistently grow and reach a revenue level of over $80B by 2022.

So, what exactly is in store for 2019?

  1. Increased Adoption in Data-Demanding Solutions

While the NVMe transition in hyperscale datacenters and cloud service providers has already reached a tipping point, the adoption of NVMe SSDs in enterprise servers and storage arrays is still underway. Jillian Coffin of TechTarget, a leading publication for NVMe-related news, forecasts that 38% of enterprises have plans to pilot/evaluate NVMe technology in the next 12 months. Thomas Coughlin of Coughlin Associates stated “NVMe SSDS in various form factors are growing in use in client, consumer and enterprise applications” with use of NVMe NAND increasing in data centers. NVMe technology brings better performance and lower latency, making NVMe a key advantage for new data-driven memory technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation. With a robust ecosystem of server vendors offering NVMe capable systems and many more NVMe SSD vendors shipping in high volume, 2019 is primed for NVMe technology to become the dominant storage interface in enterprises.

  1. Diversification of Non-Volatile Media

NVM Express Marketing Work Group Co-Chair Jonmichael Hands touched on new developments in non-volatile media in his “Delivering Continued Innovation for Storage” presentation at the recent Conference ConCepts’ NVMe Developer Days. While NVMe is flush with features for segments ranging from mobile devices to data centers, the industry wants to take advantage emerging new media technologies like Storage Class Memory (SCM) such as 3D XPoint Technology, as well as Quad Level Cell (QLC) NAND flash. NVMe features are being developed for performance and isolation, virtualization, and improving quality of service and tail latency at scale. QLC based NVMe SSDs will want better management of endurance and flash wear-out to be able to take advantages of cost and capacity scaling of the media technology. NVMe technology is expanding to become a universal transport for nonvolatile memories of all kinds.

  1. NVMe-oF™ Enters the Mainstream

Experts such as Chua Hock Leng of Pure Storage envision the next evolution will be for NVMe-oF to move from niche deployments to becoming mainstream. NVMe over Fabrics technology will see an improvement in authentication and enhanced discovery in the upcoming NVMe-oF 1.1™ Release with multipathing and namespace sharing, leading to the emergence of wide-scale implementation.

  1. Upcoming Specification Updates

NVMe specification developments are well underway and bring major new functionality to the NVMe standard, including the addition of I/O determinism and manageability and testability improvements. New developments include Namespace Write Protection, which is an optional configurable controller capability that enables the host to control the write protection state of a namespace. Other new features include the Persistent Memory Region, Persistent Event Log, Rebuild Assist and the addition of a discovery controller. The new ratified technical proposals can be found on nvmexpress.org prior to the spec being released so vendors can start implementing and developing the features for a faster time to market.

More information on the 2019 specification updates can be found in the NVM Express, Inc. developed presentations from Conference ConCepts’ NVMe Developer Days event. Visit our website to view the presentations.

One thing is clear: NVMe technology is here to stay and will continue to make an impact well beyond 2019. If you would like to join NVM Express, Inc. and contribute to our continued innovations in the storage industry, I encourage you to visit our membership page to learn more.