As part of Intel’s Optane roll-out, new ways of handling data storage at the enterprise level is cropping up. The shift to solid state storage is still ongoing, but it brings with it an opportunity to experiment with new ways of handling that storage. Classic hard drives have defined the form factor for SSDs up until fairly recently, with 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives being the norm. Since SSDs don’t have motors, and are simply a collection of chips, new form factors were made available, such as using PCIe add-in cards and the M.2 slot.
The new “Ruler” form factor is so named by Intel for its “long, skinny shape” and is all about storage density with the least amount of power and cooling required. Intel plans for these new ruler SSDs to make their way into super high-density storage racks, with up to 1PB (one Petabyte) in a 1U server. To put that in perspective, to achieve the same storage with 10TB hard drives, requires a fully loaded, 100-bay 4U server.
Unfortunately, this is just a tease at the moment, as Intel have not published more than a marketing statement and the slide we managed to acquire from above. No word on dimensions or connectors, but it may end up using a standard SATA or U.2 SAS-enabled connector.
In other SSD related news from Intel, two new SATA-based enterprise SSDs are coming, featuring Dual Port, meaning the drives have two SATA connectors in an active/active state for failover between two hosts, meaning the drives can be connected to two systems simultaneously. The DC S4500 and DC S4600 drives are for high-availability systems and make use of Intel’s 2nd generation 3D NAND, with the former being capacity targeted at 7.68TB, aimed at replacing HDDs, and the latter being for high-endurance, with capacities up to 3.84TB.
A new Intel Optane SSD is expected to launch fairly soon too, under the Dual Port system as well. Optane is the non-volatile memory system that was showcased earlier this year, first with PCIe add-in cards such as the DC P4800X, and later a consumer version with the launch of Kaby Lake, branded as Optane Memory, which were M.2 16GB and 32GB ‘caching’ systems for consumer products.
Whether the new “Ruler” form factor will show up in consumer products is unknown, but since it’s about density rather than ubiquity, we may not see it for some time. In enterprise markets, it could lead to a rapid downsizing of storage nodes, but we’ll have to wait and see on costs.