A number of manufacturers are shipping solid-state disk (SSD) drives that connect to the PCIe bus, but they all go about it in different ways. That’s why a group of vendors has launched the SSD Form Factor Working Group to hammer out standards for PCIe-based SSDs.
Initial members of the group include Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, IBM and Intel. “Contributor members” include Amphenol, Emulex, Fusion-io, IDT, Marvel, Micron, Molex, PLX, QLogic, STEC, SandForce and Smart Modular Technology.
According to Jim Pappas, director of technology initiatives at Intel, the goals of the PCIe SSD standards group are to improve performance, high availability, serviceability, compatibility and power efficiency while reducing TCO.
The group has already specified the 2.5-inch form factor, and representatives say that the standard will offer compatibility with three interface technologies: PCIe 3.0, SAS 3.0 and SATA 3.0. Compliant connectors will be backward-compatible with SAS.
“Attaching directly to PCIe, versus using protocol bridges, gives you the lowest possible latency and power requirements,” claims Gary Kotzur, a technology strategist with Dell.
In addition to the form factor, the group is addressing standards for connectors, including hot-plug functionality, a multi-lane architecture for PCIe and SAS, and additional pins for PCIe.
Representatives for the goup declined to speculate on when compliant products would be available to end users and system/storage integrators, but they plan to have a first draft specification completed by the end of this year with ratification of the standard expected around the middle of 2011.