Integrated Device Technology (IDT) did well this week at Flash Memory Summit, demonstrating their 16 channel NVMe 1.0 standard PCIe SSD controller. The first publicly seen device of it’s type, the IDT controller is on the leading edge of the new NVMe standard.
IDT is interested in selling their controllers to third parties rather than selling their own SSDs, but to do so the NVMe ecosystem needs certain tools and reference designs to get customer products to market faster. While NVMe is still in it’s early stages, the standard design PCIe SSDs shown performing at IDT’s booth are the some of the first seen of devices using the new standard.
NVM Express (Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification) is a standard with the intention of getting the various PCIe SSDs on to one common interface so that the operating system needs only one driver for all NVMe devices, sort of like SATA/AHCI in HDDs and SSDs. As it stands now, each PCIe drive needs it’s own driver to function, so the new open standard will help companies spend less resources building drivers.
IDT also showed a larger 32 channel controller design, roughly 2x the speed of the 16 channel. Partner companies can buy the controller to drop in their own designs, or use part or all of their reference designs, sort of like nVidia or AMD’s GPU partners — AMD may make the GPU, but the products are built by partner companies which buy their GPUs from one of the two GPU makers. The partners then can use their own board designs or take an off the shelf design.
IDT, LSI, and Intel are members of the NVMe working group, but more companies are sure to hop on board as the standard progresses. Some companies using their own proprietary controllers may slow to adopt, but it seems as though NVMe is getting a head of steam.