Demartek Evaluation: Performance Benefits of NVMe™ over Fibre Channel – A New, Parallel, Efficient Protocol
NetApp’s ONTAP 9.4 is the first generally available enterprise storage offering enabling a complete NVMe™ over Fibre Channel (NVMe/FC) solution. NVMe/FC solutions are based on the recent T11/INCITS committee FC-NVMe block storage standard, which specifies how to extend the NVMe command set over Fibre Channel in accordance with the NVMe over Fabrics™ (NVMe-oF™) guidelines produced by the NVM Express™ organization.
Fibre Channel is purpose-built for storage devices and systems and is the de facto standard for storage area networking (SAN) in enterprise datacenters. Fibre Channel operates in a lossless fashion with hardware offload Fibre Channel adapters, with hardware-based congestion management, providing a reliable, credit-based flow control and delivery mechanism, meeting the technical requirements for NVMe/FC.
Today’s Fibre Channel adapters have the added benefit of being able to run traditional Fibre Channel Protocol (SCSI FCP) that uses the SCSI command set concurrently with the NVMe over Fibre Channel command set in the same adapter, the same Fibre Channel Network, and the same Enterprise All Flash Arrays (AFAs). The NetApp AFF A700s is the first array to support both SCSI FCP and NVMe/FC concurrently on the same port. This provides investment protection for existing FC adapters while offering the performance benefits of NVMe/FC with a simple software upgrade. Modern Fibre Channel switches and host bus adapters (HBAs) already support both traditional SCSI FCP and NVMe/FC concurrently.
For this test report, Demartek worked with NetApp and Broadcom (Brocade and Emulex divisions) to demonstrate the benefits of NVMe over Fibre Channel on the NetApp A700s, Emulex Gen 6 Fibre Channel Adapters, and Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel SAN switches.
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