Benefits of an End-to-End NVMe over FC Solution with Lenovo ThinkSystemPositioning Information

23 Jul 2019
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This paper describes the key components required for building an end-to-end NVMe over FC deployment with Lenovo servers, Lenovo Storage, and Lenovo Fibre Channel networking from Brocade to help solve the bottleneck some businesses may be feeling with their existing storage network. Lenovo is the first in the industry to ship end-to-end NVMe over FC.

Change History

Changes in the July 23 update:

  • Added the Emulex LPe35000 and LPe35002 32GbFC HBAs to the Servers table - Table 1


Fibre Channel is the most trusted and widely deployed purpose-built network infrastructure for storage. Decades of use supporting mission-critical applications have proven that Fibre Channel has the reliability, scalability, and performance to handle evolving, demanding storage applications.

Lenovo can provide end-to-end Fibre Channel solutions that take advantage of new All Flash Arrays (AFAs) that utilize the latest 32Gb Fibre Channel technologies and features including Non-Volatile Memory Express over Fibre Channel (NVMe over FC) available with the Lenovo ThinkSystem DM7000F Flash Storage Array, ThinkSystem FC SAN Switches and Directors from Brocade, and Emulex Host Bus Adapters.

Business problem

Data storage is consistently getting faster, delivering improved economics for data centers of all sizes. Flash memory-based storage is a key technology that has significantly increased the performance of storage systems. Solid state disks (SSDs) are now so fast, that the SCSI I/O interface has become the bottleneck.


The solution is based on a modern storage network capable of adapting to the requirement of NVMe-based arrays. There are critical capabilities that are a requirement to support next-generation flash that every customer needs to keep in mind:

  • First, it has to keep running no matter what. With more data moving faster, any slowdowns or disruptions in the network could be catastrophic.
  • Next, you need a network that’s designed for flash and ready for NVMe. This means support for low latency, high speed and high bandwidth.
  • Then, it needs to scale and be able to adapt to the business. For many enterprises this is petabytes of storage and thousands of servers and storage.
  • Finally, it has to be secure to mitigate the risks of breaches. This requires isolation and managed access for peace of mind.

NVMe over Fibre Channel is a solution that is defined by two standards: NVMe-oF and FC-NVMe. NVMe-oF is a specification from the NVM Express organization that is transport agnostic, and FC-NVMe is an INCITS T11 standard. These two standards define how NVMe leverages Fibre Channel. NVMe over Fibre Channel was designed to be backward compatible with the existing Fibre Channel technology, supporting both the traditional SCSI protocol and the new NVMe protocol using the same hardware adapters, Fibre Channel switches, and Enterprise AFAs. There is no need to "rip and replace" the SAN infrastructure with NVMe over Fibre Channel.

An NVMe all-flash array connected to a storage network will help eliminate the bottleneck and deliver more value back to the business. This scalable storage network will deliver reliable flash that performs at the speed of memory.

With this newfound performance:

  • Critical applications will accelerate transactions and lead to better user experiences
  • Databases will increase the number of queries they support, leading to faster decisions and results
  • VM farms will be more efficient with higher VM densities per server, reducing infrastructure costs and simplifying IT
  • More types of workloads can be consolidated on hypervisors due to the improved storage performance


The benefits of NVMe over FC include the following:

  • IOPS: Experience a 2.1x increase in IOPS using a more efficient command by simply moving over to NVMe/FC from the traditional SCSI FCP command set.
  • Latency: Achieve 52% lower latency using NVMe over FC. NVMe over FC will have has lower latency than traditional SCSI FCP. Depending on the workload scenario.
  • Throughput: Accomplish up to 2.1x throughput improvement over traditional SCSI FCP when using NVMe/FC

A comparison of performance between Fibre Channel (FCP) and NVMe over FC is shown in the following figure.

DM7000F Performance
Figure 1. DM7000F Performance

Deployment Scenarios

NVMe over Fibre Channel can enhance existing SAN workloads. Enterprise applications such as Oracle, SAP, Microsoft SQL Server and others can immediately take advantage of NVMe/FC performance benefits.

NVMe over Fibre Channel can also enable new SAN workload scenarios as well. Big data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and AI/deep learning will all benefit from the faster performance and lower latency of NVMe over FC.

Lenovo Solution Components

The Lenovo components in the NVMe over FC solution are as follows.

Table 1. Servers
Server Machine type Host Bus Adapter Host Operating System
ThinkSystem SR630 7X01x, 7X02x

4XC7A08251 - ThinkSystem Emulex LPe35002 32Gb 2-port PCIe Fibre Channel Adapter (12.2.349.x or later)

4XC7A08250 - ThinkSystem Emulex LPe35000 32Gb 1-port PCIe Fibre Channel Adapter (12.2.349.x or later)

7ZT7A00519 – Emulex LPe32002-M2-L PCIe 32Gb 2-Port SFP+ Fibre Channel Adapter (11.4.329.x or later)

7ZT7A00517 - Emulex LPe32000-M2-L PCIe 32Gb 1-Port SFP+ Fibre Channel Adapter (11.4.329.x or later)

01CV840 – Emulex LPe31002-M6-L PCIe 16Gb 2-Port SFP+ Fibre Channel Adapter (11.4.329.x or later)

01CV830 - Emulex LPe31000-M6-L PCIe 16Gb 1-Port SFP+ Fibre Channel Adapter (11.4.329.x or later)

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12.3 with Kernel 4.4.126-94.22.1 or later and driver 11.4.329.43 or later

Windows 2016 with driver 11.4.334.7 or later

Windows 2019 with driver or later

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 with driver 11.4.410.0 or later

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 with driver 11.4.410.0 or later

ThinkSystem SR650 7X05x, 7X06x
ThinkSystem SR950 7X11x, 7X12x, 7X13x
ThinkSystem SR850 7X18x, 7X19x
ThinkSystem SR860 7X69x, 7X70x
Table 2. Networking
Description Part Numbers Software
Lenovo B6505 24-port 16Gb FC SAN Switch 3873AR5, 3873HC5, 3873HC8, 3873ER1 Fabric OS 8.1.0b and later
Lenovo B6510 48-port 16Gb FC SAN Switch 3873BR3, 3873HC6, 3873HC9, 3873IR1 Fabric OS 8.1.0b and later
Lenovo ThinkSystem DB610S 24-port 32Gb FC SAN Switch 6559D1Y, 6559D2Y, 6559D3Y, 6559HC1, 6559HC2, 6559HC3, 6559HC4, 6559HC5, 6559HC6, 6559F1A, 6559F2A, 6559F3A Fabric OS 8.1.0b and later
Lenovo ThinkSystem DB620S 48-port 32Gb FC SAN Switch 6415HC1, 6415HC2, 6415HC3, 6415HC4, 6415HC5, 6415HC6, 6415G11, 6415G2A, 6415G3A, 6515H11, 6415H2A, 6415J1A Fabric OS 8.1.0b and later
Lenovo ThinkSystem DB630S 96-port 32Gb FC SAN Switch 7D1S-CTO1WW, 7D1S-CTO2WW, 7D1S-CTO3WW, 7D1SA001WW, 7D1SA002WW, 7D1SA003WW Fabric OS 8.1.0b and later
Lenovo ThinkSystem DB400D 4-slot 32Gb FC SAN Director 6684B2A, 6684D2A, 6684HC1, 6684HC2 Fabric OS 8.1.0b and later
Lenovo ThinkSystem DB800D 8-slot 32Gb FC SAN Director 6682B1A, 6682D1A, 6682HC2 Fabric OS 8.1.0b and later
Table 3. Storage Array
Description Part Number Adapter Software
Lenovo ThinkSystem DM7000F Unified Flash Storage Array 7Y40CTO1WW Emulex 32Gb Host Bus Adapter (Option PN: 4XC7A14396) ONTAP 9.4 and later

The following figure shows the components.

Lenovo End to End NVMe over FC
Figure 2. Lenovo End to End NVMe over FC

Additional Information

For more information, see these web resources:


Related product families

Product families related to this document are the following:


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