SSD Group Promises PCIe Standard

A five-company consortium wants to make PCIe-connected SSDs as easy to use as hard disks

The SSD Form Factor Working Group, a consortium of companies, has formed to promote Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) as a bus of choice for solid state disk (SSD) modules. The group is committed to standardising an interface and form-factor to make life easier for SSD customers.

Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, IBM and Intel are attempting to make SSD arrays on PCIe as user-friendly as current hard disk arrays. Today’s PCIe-based SSD racks may provide performance but are not as easy to use as customers expect. The lack of standardised features has meant higher integration costs and an effective lock-in to proprietary systems.

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The SSD Form Factor Working Group comprises the five Promoter members and eleven Contributor members. These include Amphenol, Emulex, Micron Technology, Molex, and Smart Modular Technology.

The first three aims of the group are to design a common connector specification, develop a form-factor based on 2.5 inch hard drives, and support a hot plug capability.

“We believe that the PCIe Standard Form Factor specification will accelerate the market adoption of PCIe SSDs, offering an electromechanical solution with disk-like handling and true hot-plug capability,” said Jens-Peter Seick, senior vice president of the Data Centre Systems Product Division at Fujitsu Technology Solutions

The new connector specification will promote interoperability of several storage protocols, supporting SAS/SATA 3.0 as well as PCIe 3. The common design will allow the users a wider choice of supplier to add flexibility within the arrays. Similarly, a standard 2.5-inch form factor will also broaden the user’s options.

Adding  the hot-plug capability promises uninterrupted use of the arrays. When a problem occurs swapping new modules in and out can be done with no downtime.

“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. By enabling PCIe standards, Dell is delivering breakthrough storage performance to a mainstream audience,” said Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager for Dell Server Platforms.