Testing, Testing, 1 – 2 – 3, NVMe/TCP at UNH-IOL Plugfest #11

Tucked away in tiny Durham, New Hampshire, sits one of the most important networking and data communications testing facilities in the U.S, the University of New Hampshire’s InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL). Recently, our team made our way there for the second year in a row to participate in the IOL’s NVMEoF Plugfest #11, the first-ever plugfest officially testing NVMe over TCP (NVMe/TCP) technology. We brought to the plugfest the first production-grade NVMe/TCP appliance, the Lightbits SuperSSD,  running our software-defined storage software, LightOS.

Introducing UNH-IOL Plugfest

The UNH-IOL has been one of the industry’s premier independent proving grounds for new technologies since 1988 and plugfests are designed for companies developing equipment, solutions, and test equipment to test their interoperability with other products and ensure they can pass standard certifications.

As technologists, we felt at home  in the UNH-IOL environment surrounded by  servers, network cards, Ethernet cables hanging from the ceiling, and people just like us who live and breathe NVMe.

Testing, Testing – NVMe/TCP

Running conformance tests you’re sure you’re going to pass is fun. But where’s the excitement in that? Running inter-op test against your code can be both fun and exciting. Here’s how a typical session at the plugfest might look like:

– Here’s the IP, try to discover and run some IO.

– What? Connection is refused?

– (after 1s): They are using a wrong port…

– (after 20s): I crashed? They might have a bug.

– (after 40s): More likely, I might have a bug.

– (after 1min): I definitely have a bug. But they violate the spec.

– (after 5min): Nope, I violate the spec.

– (after 60min): Not any more — all fixed. Let’s try it again. Here we go!

Now that was exciting.

For Plugfest #11, the IOL team tested SuperSSD (the world’s first ultra-high capacity, higher performance NVMe/TCP storage appliance) on a Dell PowerEdge R740xd Rack Server. The testing involved connecting an NVMe initiator and target devices across a fabric of at least two switches. The initiator contained a Linux-based operating system to run IOL PC edition tests against the target.

In order to verify endurance, test behavior under traffic congestion and more, we also participated in the IOL’s “large build”, a setup that mimics a data center environment running different types of traffic simultaneously over all the devices for two days. 

Our goal was to pass certification testing against the UNH NVMeOF conformance test suite and pass interoperability tests with other initiators include connections via two switches, input/output traffic, recovery after network disconnections, and recover after initiator/target power down. 

Check, Check – The Results

The results of Plugfest#11 showed that SuperSSD appliance and the LightOS software that powers it behave exactly as a production-quality system should. The system passed the conformance testing, earning SuperSSD a spot on the v11 NVMeOF/TCP Integrator’s list – a first ever for an NVMe/TCP appliance.

The UNH-IOL team indicated the system felt good and was easy to operate while providing storage volumes and service on two nodes to multiple clients.  Like many members of the Lightbits team, technologists at UNH have had a long-standing interest in NVMe, with many of its team closely involved with the NVMe standardization work group and NVMe Promoter’s Group. 


I’d like to thank the awesome UNH-IOL team that makes these plugfest events a success for everyone. Most of the team is comprised of students who develop tests, own, and set up the infrastructure, and run the testing.  They continually do a great job preparing and running the event, and make all the participants feel right at home, from providing snacks and food to tools, parking, logistics and even bringing bringing all of the participants on a boat trip across Portsmouth Harbor to the Gulf of Maine. We can’t thank you enough for your hard work and support. See you at the next Plugfest!

Lastly if you’re interested in learning more about NVMe/TCP and 7 reasons why it’s a better choice for your data center, download our free ebook here.

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About the Writer:

Principal Software Engineer