Double the pleasure, double the fun, with Samsung's double wide gumstick

Subject: General Tech | June 22, 2018 - 12:23 PM |
Tagged: samusng, NGSFF, nf1, M.2, 8TB

Samsung's next generation small form factor M.2 design is about to become a standard, offering even higher density flash storage.  The NF1 gumstick is 11cm x 3.05cm, 0.85cm wider than the current models and just wide enough to fit two rows 256Gbit TLC 3D V-NAND flash chips side by side.   The model shown off by The Inquirer has 8TB of storage paired with 12GB of LPDDR4 DRAM and communicating over NVMe v1.3 using PCIe 4.0; no mention of the controller as of yet.  Samsung is expected to be releasing 512Gbit flash chips in the near future which will bring the potential size of  the dirve up to 16TB.  

The chances are good this will not sell for $0.10/GB.

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"Samsung's 8TB next-generation small form factor (NGSFF) NF1 flash card is to be standardised by the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association in October."

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Source: The Inquirer

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June 22, 2018 | 01:25 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Jeremy, Thanks for this. Will this fit in the space normally available for integrated M.2 SSDs? I realize you probably don't have one in hand, but could you do some quick measurements for us, and/or measure and cut a cardboard mock-up to see if this new form factor will fit? Of course, I'm also interested to know if there is room on the recent "4x4 " AICs e.g. ASRock Ultra Quad M.2 and ASUS Hyper M.2 x15 cards.

June 22, 2018 | 01:33 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

EDIT: above should be ASUS Hyper M.2 x16
(sorry for the typo)

June 22, 2018 | 01:55 PM - Posted by Brother Michigan (not verified)

That probably depends entirely on the parent device.

June 22, 2018 | 03:03 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Good point. It doesn't look like this wider NF1 form factor will fit in the ASRock Ultra Quad M.2 card:

June 22, 2018 | 04:10 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

I suspect boards with custom heatspreaders for M.2 will have trouble fitting these ... maybe an adapter?

June 22, 2018 | 04:53 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Thanks, Jeremy. I know from experience that network switches do negotiate different speeds, and a 6G SSD will work when wired to a 3G SATA port. I realize my ignorance of the NVMe standard will be showing here. Nevertheless, how difficult would it be to implement a universal NVMe standard that supports automatic negotiation of PCIe clock rates? I do believe the PCIe 4.0 standard will be "backwards compatible". This should mean that future storage devices like this NF1 form factor, will work in M.2 slots that run at 8 GHz. As such, your point about an adapter is right on: e.g. lots of PCIe AICs have room for 2 x M.2 NVMe SSDs. Accordingly, maybe all that needs to happen is to tweak the PCB and M.2 socket locations to accommodate this NF1 form factor. Likewise, lots of PCIe AICs have room for 1 x M.2 NVMe SSD: those may already have the room required by this NF1 form factor. Thanks again! p.s. Would I LUV to be a fly on the wall inside one of Samsung's advanced storage R&D labs!! Those labs very probably have PCIe 4.0 working already.

June 22, 2018 | 04:59 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

p.s. And, if you happen to speak with any ASUS engineers in the near future, ASUS should make room on their DIMM.2 AIC for four (4) of these NF1 SSDs. Given its close proximity to the CPU socket, the DIMM.2 socket is a perfect place to situate these PCIe 4.0 storage devices; and, ASUS has already designed that AIC to accommodate a cooling fan, which will very likely be required because of the 16 GHz clock rate of the PCIe 4.0 interface.

June 23, 2018 | 08:23 AM - Posted by Anonymouse (not verified)

NGSFF is already explicitly compatible with the m.2 physical interface (*card-edge connector) and electrical interface (pinout) with devices required to fallnack to PCIe 3.0 (like any other PCIe device). The only issue with putting this in a consumer motherboard - apart from the massive pricetag - is whether it will physically fit, as NGSFF is wider and a few mm thicker than m.2 22100. A riser or a board with a generous keep-out area would be all that is needed.

June 24, 2018 | 09:41 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

30.5mm - 22.0mm = 8.5mm overall / 2 = 4.25mm on each side

Yes, there should be room on half-height cards
for at least two of these NF1 SSDs on one side.

My question is whether there is room between
standard PCIe expansion slots, e.g. when those
PCIe slots are reinforced.

June 22, 2018 | 01:32 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

p.s. Also, did you note that it's designed for PCIe 4.0:

"The interface is NVMe v1.3 running across PCIe gen 4."


"3.1 and 2.0 GB/sec sequential read and write performance"

Thus, it appears that Samsung may have obtained the latter measurements on a PCIe 3.0 interface. Otherwise, this new NF1 does not appear to be taking advantage of double the raw bandwidth that comes with PCIe 4.0.

June 22, 2018 | 04:09 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

Also in the Samsung PR.

" The NF1 SSD features a brand new, high-performance controller that supports the NVMe 1.3 protocol and PCIe 4.0 interface, delivering sequential read speeds of 3,100 megabytes per second (MB/s) and write speeds of 2,000MB/s. "

June 22, 2018 | 10:11 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified),37345.html

EDIT: Samsung has corrected its specifications to indicate the drive is not PCIe 4.0. Instead, it is PCIe 3.0 x4.

June 24, 2018 | 12:39 AM - Posted by Anonymous1 (not verified)

They just had to go and ruin all the fun didn't they :/

June 22, 2018 | 10:19 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Physical Dimensions: 30.5 x 110 x 4.8 mm

Host Interface: PCIe Gen 3 x4 @ 32 Gb/s

NF1 systems utilize the same connector as the M.2 form factor

June 26, 2018 | 01:02 AM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

It appears there is enough room for an extra 4.25mm
on each side (but I haven't measured this exactly):

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