Solid state drive/NVMe

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NVM Express (NVMe) is a specification for accessing SSDs attached through the PCI Express bus. As a logical device interface, NVM Express has been designed from the ground up, capitalizing on the low latency and parallelism of PCI Express SSDs, and mirroring the parallelism of contemporary CPUs, platforms and applications.

Installation

The Linux NVMe driver is natively included in the kernel since version 3.3. NVMe devices should show up under /dev/nvme*.

Extra userspace NVMe tools can be found in nvme-cli or nvme-cli-gitAUR.

See Solid State Drives for supported filesystems, maximizing performance, minimizing disk reads/writes, etc.

Management

Note: This section was adapted from [1].

List all the NVMe SSDs attached with name, serial number, size, LBA format and serial:

# nvme list

List information about a drive and features it supports in a human-friendly way:

# nvme id-ctrl -H /dev/nvme0
Tip: In order to make sense of the abbreviations used, see reference section 5.15.2.2 ("Identify Controller data structure") in the relevant NVMe spec, e.g. bottom of p. 172 for the latest 1.4a spec.

List information about a namespace and features it supports:

Note: Namespaces are the construct in NVMe technology that hold user data. An NVMe controller can have multiple namespaces attached to it. Most NVMe SSDs today just use a single namespace, but multi-tenant applications, virtualization and security have use cases for multiple namespaces.
# nvme id-ns /dev/nvme0n1
Tip: In order to make sense of the abbreviations used, see reference section 5.15.2.1 ("Identify Namespace data structure") in the relevant NVMe spec (e.g. p. 163 for the latest 1.4a spec).

Output the NVMe error log page:

# nvme error-log /dev/nvme0
Tip: Look for output where error count does not equal 1 to find out if there are any errors in the error log.

Delete a namespace:

Warning: This command will delete all data on the specified namespace. Use with caution!
# nvme delete-ns /dev/nvme0n1

Create a new namespace, e.g creating a smaller size namespace to overprovision an SSD for improved endurance, performance, and latency:

# nvme create-ns /dev/nvme0

See nvme help and nvme(1) for a list of all commands along with a terse description.

SMART

Output the NVMe SMART log page for health status, temp, endurance, and more:

# nvme smart-log /dev/nvme0
Tip: Use the -H option to output even more information, e.g. nvme smart-log -H /dev/nvme0.

NVMe support was added to smartmontools in version 6.5 (available since May 2016 in the official repositories).

Note: smartmontools official wiki reports this support as experimental.

Currently implemented features (as taken from the wiki):

  • Basic information about controller name, firmware, capacity (smartctl -i)
  • Controller and namespace capabilities (smartctl -c)
  • SMART overall-health self-assessment test result and warnings (smartctl -H)
  • NVMe SMART attributes (smartctl -A)
  • NVMe error log (smartctl -l error[,NUM])
  • Ability to fetch any nvme log (smartctl -l nvmelog,N,SIZE)
  • The smartd daemon tracks health (-H), error count (-l error) and temperature (-W DIFF,INFO,CRIT)

See S.M.A.R.T. and the official wiki entry for more information, and see this article for contextual information about the output.

Secure erase

See Solid state drive/Memory cell clearing#NVMe drive.

Firmware update

Generic

Firmware can be managed using nvme-cli. To display available slots and check whether Slot 1 is read only:

# nvme fw-log /dev/nvme0
Firmware Log for device:nvme0
afi  : 0x11
frs1 : 0x32303132345a3553 (S5Z42102)
frs2 : 0x32303132345a3553 (S5Z42102)
# nvme id-ctrl /dev/nvme0 -H | grep Firmware
[0:0] : 0	Firmware Slot 1 Read/Write

Download and commit firmware to specified slot. In the example below, firmware is first committed without activation (-a 0). Next, an existing image is activated (-a 2). Refer to the NVMe specification for details on firmware commit action values.

# nvme fw-download -f S5Z42_fw_S5Z42105.bin /dev/nvme0
Firmware download success
# nvme fw-commit -s 2 -a 0 /dev/nvme0
Success committing firmware action:0 slot:2
# nvme fw-log /dev/nvme0
Firmware Log for device:nvme0
afi  : 0x21
frs1 : 0x32303132345a3553 (S5Z42102)
frs2 : 0x35303132345a3553 (S5Z42105)
# nvme fw-commit -s 2 -a 2 /dev/nvme0
Success committing firmware action:2 slot:2

Finally reset the controller to load the new firmware

# echo 1 > /sys/class/nvme/nvme0/reset_controller

Intel

"The Intel® Memory and Storage Tool (Intel® MAS) is a drive management tool for Intel® SSDs and Intel® Optane™ Memory devices, supported on Windows*, Linux*, and ESXi*. [...] Use this tool to manage PCIe*-/NVMe*- and SATA-based Client and Datacenter Intel® SSD devices and update to the latest firmware."[2]

Install intel-mas-cli-toolAUR and check whether your drive has an update available:

# intelmas show -intelssd
- Intel SSD 660p Series redacted -

Capacity : 512.11 GB
CurrentPercent : Property not found
DevicePath : /dev/nvme0n1
DeviceStatus : Healthy
Firmware : 002C
FirmwareUpdateAvailable : 004C
Index : 0
MaximumLBA : 1000215215
ModelNumber : INTEL SSDPEKNW512G8
ProductFamily : Intel SSD 660p Series
SMARTEnabled : True
SectorDataSize : 512
SerialNumber : redacted

If so, execute the load command as follows:

# intelmas load -intelssd 0
WARNING! You have selected to update the drives firmware! 
Proceed with the update? (Y|N): Y
Checking for firmware update...

- Intel SSD 660p Series redacted -

Status : Firmware updated successfully. Please reboot the system.

Kingston

Kingston does not provide separate firmware downloads on their website, instead referring users to a Windows only utility. Firmware files appear to use a predictable naming scheme based on the firmware revision:

https://media.kingston.com/support/downloads/S5Z42105.zip

Then proceed with the generic flashing instructions.

Performance

Sector size

See Advanced Format#How to determine if HDD employ a 4k sector.

Discards

Warning: Although continuous TRIM is an option (albeit not recommended) for SSDs, NVMe devices should not be issued discards.

Discards are disabled by default on typical setups that use ext4 and LVM, but other file systems might need discards to be disabled explicitly.

Intel, as one device manufacturer, recommends not to enable discards at the file system level, but suggests the periodic TRIM method, or apply fstrim manually.[3]

Airflow

NVMe SSDs are known to be affected by high operating temperatures and will throttle performance over certain thresholds.[4]

Testing

Raw device performance tests can be run with hdparm:

# hdparm -Tt --direct /dev/nvme0n1

Power Saving (APST)

To check NVMe power states, install nvme-cli or nvme-cli-gitAUR, and run nvme get-feature /dev/nvme[0-9] -f 0x0c -H:

# nvme get-feature /dev/nvme0 -f 0x0c -H
get-feature:0xc (Autonomous Power State Transition), Current value:0x000001
        Autonomous Power State Transition Enable (APSTE): Enabled
        Auto PST Entries        .................

...

When APST is enabled the output should contain "Autonomous Power State Transition Enable (APSTE): Enabled" and there should be non-zero entries in the table below indicating the idle time before transitioning into each of the available states.

If APST is enabled but no non-zero states appear in the table, the latencies might be too high for any states to be enabled by default. The output of nvme id-ctrl /dev/nvme[0-9] (as the root user) should show the available non-operational power states of the NVME controller. If the total latency of any state (enlat + xlat) is greater than 25000 (25ms) you must pass a value at least that high as parameter default_ps_max_latency_us for the nvme_core kernel module. This should enable APST and make the table in nvme get-feature (as the root user) show the entries.

Troubleshooting

Controller failure due to broken APST support

Some NVMe devices may exhibit issues related to power saving (APST). This is a known issue for Kingston A2000 [5] as of firmware S5Z42105 and has previously been reported on Samsung NVMe drives (Linux v4.10) [6][7]

A failure renders the device unusable until system reset, with kernel logs similar to:

 nvme nvme0: I/O 566 QID 7 timeout, aborting
 nvme nvme0: I/O 989 QID 1 timeout, aborting
 nvme nvme0: I/O 990 QID 1 timeout, aborting
 nvme nvme0: I/O 840 QID 6 timeout, reset controller
 nvme nvme0: I/O 24 QID 0 timeout, reset controller
 nvme nvme0: Device not ready; aborting reset, CSTS=0x1
 ...
 nvme nvme0: Device not ready; aborting reset, CSTS=0x1
 nvme nvme0: Device not ready; aborting reset, CSTS=0x1
 nvme nvme0: failed to set APST feature (-19)

As a workaround, add the kernel parameter nvme_core.default_ps_max_latency_us=0 to completely disable APST, or set a custom threshold to disable specific states.

# smartctl -a /dev/nvme0
Supported Power States
St Op     Max   Active     Idle   RL RT WL WT  Ent_Lat  Ex_Lat
 0 +     9.00W       -        -    0  0  0  0        0       0
 1 +     4.60W       -        -    1  1  1  1        0       0
 2 +     3.80W       -        -    2  2  2  2        0       0
 3 -   0.0450W       -        -    3  3  3  3     2000    2000
 4 -   0.0040W       -        -    4  4  4  4    15000   15000

The value passed is the maximum exit latency (Ex_Lat). For example, to disable PS4 set nvme_core.default_ps_max_latency_us=2000.

See also