EDSFF is going to be the form factor of the future and Kioxia is adding to the form factor’s momentum with a new product demonstration. For those that are not aware, EDSFF is a next-generation SSD form factor that is designed from the ground up to support SSDs instead of rotating hard drives. Kioxia is aiming to be an early adopter of the new form factor to start getting early customer wins before all of its competitors enter the market.
Your typical 2.5” drive bay was designed for SATA and SAS rotating hard drives. The 2.5” form factor is a size that the industry thought could service both enterprise storage and the notebook segment.
These days, things have changed. We rarely see notebooks with 2.5” drives these days. 3.5″ drives are great for high-capacity scale up and out storage, but drive manufacturers are resorting to surreptitiously substituting DM-SMR technology to get margin out of declining segments. Buying SAS hard drives for performance enterprise storage means you are buying drives with lower performance, endurance, capacity, and reliability, with higher power consumption.
EDSFF is designed to be a PCIe standard for SSDs. Primarily, these are NVMe SSDs. The longer and thinner form factor better aligns with the fact that instead of spinning disks, we now have NAND chips on PCB. EDSFF allows for better placement of these NAND packages for optimal cooling. Since NVMe SSDs are PCIe based, and there is more room for power and cooling in a form factor that was not designed for a spinning disk, the ecosystem is looking at EDSFF to provide more than just storage even to accelerators and perhaps even memory in the CXL PCIe Gen5 era.
Kioxia EDSFF “Ruler” SSD Foray
The new Kioxia EDSFF SSDs come in the “E3” form factor. We will be seeing E3.Short (E3.S) and E3.Long (E3.L) variants in both thick and thin form factors in the near future. There are also capabilities to expand a traditional PCIe x4 connector. Today’s Kioxia drives are E3.S Thin (7.5mm) in size. E3.S thick is 16.8mm which is about the width of two drives plus the space between them. Kioxia’s EDSFF development vehicle is based largely around components in its Kioxia CM6 PCIe Gen4 SSD for traditional form factors.
Something that one can readily see in the photo Kioxia distributed is that this Dell box does not have the drive latches. I asked our Editor-in-Chief, Patrick, about this. He said latch design is a big deal and differentiator in the emerging ecosystem for EDSFF servers.
Kioxia is certainly looking to the future. This PCIe Gen4 development SSD uses 28W but Kioxia is looking to 40W and PCIe Gen5 in the future.
After I sent this article in, I learned STH has an EDSFF server platform piece scheduled for next week. It is safe to say there is more EDSFF coverage coming from STH in the near future. For now, momentum is converging on this being a major part of the ecosystem going forward. Given that we saw designs for ruler SSDs in Facebook and Microsoft cloud servers years ago when we saw Where Cloud Servers Come From Visiting Wiwynn in Taipei, and the fact that Facebook is using EDSFF in its 3rd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable “Cooper Lake” platforms, it seems as though there is a strong market building for EDSFF which Kioxia is getting ready to enter.