FMS 2017: Intel's EDSFF 'Ruler' SSD Form Factor Details Emerge - 1 Petabyte in a 1U Chassis!

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 9, 2017 - 09:19 PM |
Tagged: FMS 2017, ssd, S4600, S4500, ruler, pcie, NVMe, Intel, EDSFF

Yesterday we saw Samsung introduce their 'NGSFF' form factor during yesterday's keynote. Intel has been at work on a similar standard, this one named EDSFF (Enterprise & Datacenter Storage Form Factor), with the simpler working name as 'Ruler', mainly because it bears a resemblance:

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Note that the etching states P4500 Series. P4500 was launched a couple of days ago and is Intel's next generation NVMe PCIe Datacenter SSD. It's available in the typical form factors (U.2, HHHL), but this new Ruler form factor contains the exact same 12 channel controller and flash counts, only arranged differently.

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SFF-TA-1002 connector (aka 'Gen-Z'), shown next to an AA battery for scale. This connector spec is electrically rated for speeds up to 4th and 5th generation PCIe, so future proofing was definitely a consideration here. In short, this is a beefed up M.2 style connector that can handle more throughput and also has a few additional pins to support remote power and power-loss-protection (capacitors outside the Ruler), as well as support for activity LEDs, etc.

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Here is a slide showing the layout of the Ruler. 36 flash packages can be installed, with the possibility of pushing that figure to 42.

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Thermals were a main consideration in the design, and the increased surface area compared to U.2 designs (with stacked PCBs) make for far cooler operation.

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Intel's play here is fitting as much flash as possible into a 1U chassis. 1PB in a 1U is definitely a bold claim, but absolutely doable in the near future.

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I'll leave you with the quick sniper shot I grabbed of their demo system. I'll be posting more details on the P4500 and P4600 series products later this week (remember, same guts as the Ruler), so stay tuned!


August 9, 2017 | 11:06 PM - Posted by bria5544

This is such a cool idea. I hope this becomes a standard for servers. I'd like to have 1PB in a 1U chassis.

August 10, 2017 | 03:48 AM - Posted by djotter

Its a bit rich of them to say what usually takes 42U we can do with 1U. If they used 8TB drives it would be 10.5U, or 10TB drives would be 8.5U. Still impressive, but I guess not as sensational.

August 10, 2017 | 06:42 PM - Posted by Jeppe (not verified)

It can be done in 4U, just 1 D51PL-4U populated with 10TB drives are just over 1PB, put in the new 12 or 14TB drives and yeah

August 10, 2017 | 05:00 AM - Posted by psuedonymous

Even at 33cm long, I'd be happy with this replacing 2.5" form-factor drives for desktop. The legacy of single-sided compatibility is already limiting capacities for m.2 drives.

August 11, 2017 | 03:09 PM - Posted by Photonboy

You're joking right?

We already have 2TB M.2 SSD's and they cost $1100USD.

A PetaByte is 1000TB's. That's 500X the capacity of the above 2TB SSD.

That's like 167,000 4K movies (HEVC at 3GB per hour)

August 11, 2017 | 01:31 PM - Posted by Lonnie McClure (not verified)

The form factor reminds me a bit of the optical isolinear chips in Star Trek:TNG.

August 12, 2017 | 10:00 AM - Posted by Evan (not verified)

Oh wow, I see it too now. We just need Data to put them all in really fast.

August 15, 2017 | 05:24 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Intel is the new Ruler of solid-state storage.

(I know someone else has already coined that joke,
but I couldn't resist; "Ruler" just sounds better
than duopoly oligarch.)

August 21, 2017 | 10:40 AM - Posted by CoolLuke (not verified)

Do these require less cooling than traditional spinning drives? Seems like a small data center means less cooling needs as well?

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