Kerekes, editor, StorageSearch.com
- May 21, 2012|
A new family is planning to move into the
enterprise end of SSD
street - removable 2.5" SSDs which have a PCIe interface.
market for 2.5" SSDs which have a PCIe interface marks the soon to be
crowded intersection point of 3 different SSD market strands.
- the next step in the SATA-IO (ORG) performance roadmap for
SATA 3 SSDs in the
form of SATA express (with 2 lanes of gen2 PCIe) instead of a 12Gbps scaling of
Serial ATA - which
option was rejected in 2011 as not offering a competitively viable
- a virgin market opportunity for vendors who already have IP assets in the
crowded enterprise PCIe
SSD market and who want to stretch those assets into new application areas
for removable PCIe SSDs.
One way to think about the scale of the market
opportunity is this.
Suppose you're in the controller business and
already have a PCIe SSD IP which sells well in enterprise server slots.
architecture - for every SSD you sell which plugs into a server slot -
there's a lot more drive slots out there in the storage racks.
reality is that - in competition with the SAN view of the enterprise - we now
also have the scalable storage as software - or
cloud types of
But whatever may happen in the end - the thing
which will undoubtedly happen next - is that the number of potential SSD
slots in SAN storage racks is a bigger number (10x) and will grow faster
than the SSD slots in new servers.
only complicating factors which are going to slow down the race to get products
into the 2.5" PCIe SSD market are detailed marketing decisions about
whether to ship vanilla SSDs or use the new form factor as a way to leverage new
features which users will specifically value or expect too see in this
particular module form factor - due to the cultural heritage and experience with
earlier types of 2.5" SSDs. They relate to:-
- an alternative upwards (or sideways migration route) for systems designers
who need a next step after 12Gbps
- SSD software:-
the specific type of virtuualization. The 2.5" paradigm supports hot swap
and upgrades. Ideally the software should support almost instant benefits if
users decide to plug in new 2.5" SSDs.
- standards: - what
language will the 2.5" PCIe SSDs speak? PCIe is a neutral physical
connection. The emerging SCSI Express standard is just one of many
possibilities. Others include standard storage networks such as
tolerance:- what type of architecture will underpin the 2.5" PCIe SSD
rack? Possibilities range from standard
RAID like systems upto
proprietary schemes which can provide much better resilience at greater
- pricing strategy:-
the new form factor will open up new application slots - some of which will be
positioned above those of existing 2.5" SAS SSDs. But less obviously by
negating the essential need for on-board controllers some of the new SSDs
could be positioned in the cost gap between high end enterprise SATA SSDs
and fast-enough SAS SSDs too (see more below).
How will the 2.5" PCIe SSD market affect the business of current
PCIe SSD companies?
I've spoken to a representative sample of
enterprise SSD companies about the new form factor. This includes companies
which currently make PCIe SSDs and also some who don't.
view is that 2.5" PCIe SSDs represent additional new business - compared to
installing PCIe SSD cards and multi-card modules into server slots.
will 2.5" PCIe SSDs impact the business of SAS SSD makers?
the long term I think it will reduce the market size for SAS SSDs because the
new types of SSDs will provide faster throughput and lower latency - and the
possibility of offering fast-enough SSDs at lower cost too.
SSDs work here and now - and it could take another year or so for 2.5" PCIe
SSDs to get firmly established in the market.
My guess is that
initially some vendors of 2.5" PCIe SSDs will position their products as
options which sit above the performance capabilities of their SAS SSD product
But other options are possible too. For example a 2.5" PCIe
SSD - which offloads its flash controller functions to the host server (like
could deliver lower power consumption and higher capacity than traditional SAS
SSDs - and at lower cost. In the non-offfloaded flash management design (which
other vendors may also introduce too) - the new 2.5" PCIe SSDs could be
designed at a lower cost than SAS SSDs (because they don't need the controller).
That's one of the reasons that SAS SSD makers are looking at this
Why do we need yet another type of SSD component in the
The simple answer is that some users prefer the unit of
upgrade or fault replacement to be a drive instead of a whole rack.
although it's possible to upgrade or replace PCIe SSDs at the card level - it's
more convenient to do so at the module level.
The new 2.5" PCIe
SSDs will affect the variety of options seen inside fast SSD racks. They have
been a long time coming and are already included in my earlier published models
about SSD market silos.
As I said above - there will soon be more than
20 companies in this market - and the new products will be the showcases for
new configuation possibilities.
Companies which have already publicly
announced such products and demonstrated prototypes, or are shipping them
...Later updates:- September 2012
The subject of 2.5"
PCIe SSDs and related standards such as NVMe came up in several papers and blogs
centered on the Flash Memory Summit
Here are some links and notes.
- "2 competing enterprise initiatives have emerged in the attempt to
align the industry around PCIe based SSDs - SCSI express (led by HP) and NVMe
(led by Intel and Dell). While a 3rd standard - SATA express - is aimed at
clients and hybrids. In the 2.5" drive size - a multi-function bay can
support both SAS and PCIe SSDs with the same SFF-8639 connector" -
paper - enterprise interface trends (pdf)
|OCZ samples hot swap,
fast 2.5" NVMe SSDs|
|Editor:- September 9, 2014 - OCZ
that this month it will begin sampling a new
swappable enterprise PCIe SSD - the Z-Drive 6000 - a native PCIe 3.0
NVMe 1.1 solution - which the company says "provides industry-leading
IOPS per dollar".
It has a SFF-8639 connector, internal
data protection, "consistent low
latency", and encryption.
Editor's comments:- Although
OCZ demonstrated the SSD industry's first working 3.5" PCIe SSD
prototype 4 years ago - in
August 2010 - the
company didn't follow through to establish an early lead in its natural
successor - the 2.5" enterprise PCIe market.
The main reason for
that being financial problems in OCZ in the years which immediately
followed - which mitigated against products which didn't have a short term
Now, however, with OCZ having been almost a year
as a Toshiba group company - the small form factor enterprise NVMe market
looks like a natural fit for OCZ - as an extension of its long running
conventional form factor PCIe SSD accelerator business.
|Intel's new 2.5" PCIe
|Editor:- June 3, 2014 -
Intel has announced
details of new NVMe compatible
2.5" PCIe SSDs
Series - which will offer upto 2TB (20nm) capacity in a 15mm high hot-swap
|"I can see no
advantages or reasons to start using PCIe SSDs instead of SAS SSDs inside our
CEO and founder of Nimbus
replying to a question from the editor of StorageSearch.com about the
technology roadmap in their rackmount SSDs - (February 2012)|
|You're not going to see
12Gbps SATA SSDs anytime soon. Instead the next iteration in speedup for for
SATA is SATAe or SATA express - which will be drives which are mechanically
identical but which can offer SATA 3 or 2 lane PCIe connections in the same
|SATA market milestones|