Industry giants collaborate on solid state disk design

A group of manufacturers has teamed up in a bid to promote greater storage efficiencies in data centres.

They have formed the Solid State Drive (SSD) Form Factor Working Group, which they hope will help to advance the benefits of Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) storage drives through standardisation. They will focus on enterprise customers who are “pushing the storage IO envelop”, whatever that means, and want high-performance, easy-to-use, cost-effective storage to make CPUs perform better.

Members, including Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, IBM and Intel as well as Contributor Members Amphenol, Emulex, Fusion-io, IDT, Marvel Semiconductor, Micron Technology, Molex, PLX, QLogic, STEC, SandForce and Smart Modular Technology, PCIe-based SSDs give good performance but are thin on the ease of use features customers want. They believe that by creating an industry standard, which forces SSDs to be easy to use and compatible, the market demand for devices will grow.

The group will also look at standardising a connector specification which will promote interoperability of several storage protocols, supporting SAS/SATA 3.0 as well as PCIe 3. This allows greater user choice and flexibility and a form factor which builds upon the current 2.5-inch standard to enable enclosure flexibility while supporting the new connector definition and expanding the power envelope in support of higher performance.
Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager, Dell Server Platforms, said: “Dell is pleased to part of this working group because it supports a broader industry effort to reduce complexity and integration issues around PCIe storage drives.”

He burbled in incomprehensible marketing speek: “By enabling PCIe standards, Dell is delivering breakthrough storage performance to a mainstream audience. We’re taking a leadership position in PCIe storage technology and standardisation which will help our customers achieve greater interoperability, scalability and choice.”

Tom Macdonald, vice president of Intel architecture group and general manager of platform components group at Intel, said: “Intel sees PCIe continuing to grow in importance as a solid state drive interface driven by native attach points in our enterprise platforms. Intel is looking forward to working with SSD Form Factor Working Group to collectively define the essential building blocks for future generations of non-volatile memory storage solutions.” Solutions. Ah well.