StarWind NVMe-oF Initiator

Value proposition

Seeing that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) readily adopt flash, it is important to develop all the means for working with PCIe SSDs. The protocol for presenting this type of flash effectively over the network, NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF), has already been created. NVMe-oF software targets have already been designed. However, there is no native NVMe-oF initiator for Windows yet. StarWind NVMe-oF Initiator is the first free all-software solution that brings NVMe-oF to Windows.


Common protocols – iSCSI, iSER, NFS, and SMB3 – are proven to be inefficient for presenting flash over the network. Having a single short command queue, they were designed to connect HDDs, not flash. Due to such design, these protocols cut off most of PCIe SSD performance (up to 50%). Moneywise, such a severe performance loss means that you may need more PCIe SSDs at some point, which is overkill for SMEs and ROBOs!

Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) – single short command queue is a performance bottleneck

To date, means for presenting PCIe SSDs to the entire Hyper-V cluster are under development. NVMe-oF, the protocol tailored for enabling VMs to talk effectively to PCIe drives, is a perfect alternative to the traditional protocols, but there’s no NVMe-oF software initiator for Windows yet, meaning that clients cannot effectively use the hardware. Yes, there are NVMe-oF-ready network interface cards (NICs) allowing Hyper-V VMs to talk to PCIe SSDs. But buying expensive NICs right after purchasing a couple of flash drives is quite a big investment.


NVMe-oF keeps the latency of NVMe drives connected via the network lower than 10ms. Applications basically feel no difference between drives presented over the network and ones connected locally. The single short command queue is replaced with multiple independent queues, up to 64K commands each. Such design allows getting all the performance a PCIe SSD can provide.

NVMe-oF – performance is not bottlenecked by fabrics anymore

StarWind NVMe-oF Initiator is the only free software solution for Windows, allowing you to enjoy all PCIe SSD benefits. It is a software module that connects a host (i.e., a client) to a block storage target (i.e., remote server). The solution allows the client to talk to the target over RDMA, meaning that all I/O can bypass the CPU. As a result, there’s more spare compute resources for VMs.

Bring the full NVMe-oF support to your environment at no cost!


All-software solution

There’s no need to buy new hardware right after you add PCIe SSDs to your setup. Just install StarWind NVMe-oF Initiator driver and enjoy all the NVMe benefits.

Works on Windows

No native NVMe-oF support in Windows? It’s time to bring this protocol to Windows! StarWind NVMe-oF initiator is the first software initiator for Windows.


StarWind NVMe-oF initiator is free of charge. No proprietary hardware or software is needed. Just because we want our users to try out NVMe.

Please fill out the form below to download the product. An installer link together with the license key will be sent to the e-mail address that you’ve specified. You may check the Free vs. Paid document if you are unsure about which StarWind Virtual SAN version you would like to try. Aside from this, there is a totally unrestricted NFS (Not For Sale) version of StarWind VSAN available for certain use cases. StarWind Virtual SAN for Hyper-V release notes are available here.

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