back to article Tall, slim models are coming to take over dumpy SSD territory

Intel and Samsung have introduced "ruler" format SSDs, longer than the standard 2.5-inch drive format, and with higher capacities. However, adoption has been slow. Supermicro is bringing in ruler SSD-using servers, but few others. Why is that? Are the formats unsuitable in some way? We asked senior 451 analyst Steven Hill for …

  1. PurpleMoneky
    Headmaster

    Height Correction

    Had to check sizes and the Intel drive dimensions are: 325.35mm long by 9.5mm wide and 38.6mm high.

    I know it's just a decimal point, but it was making my teeth ache!

    1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: Height Correction

      I wonder why such arbitrary lengths? 325.35 and not 325? Why the extra 0.35? Or the other direction, why not 325.5? 38.6, why not 38.5?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Height Correction

        I'd try looking at it in inches first. And then add the depth of a standard edge connector and the thickness of a back/mid-place PCB.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Height Correction

        Maybe they are nice round numbers in Angstroms. Or pico-Brontosuarusususus.

        1. Paul

          Re: Height Correction

          I think that's nano-furlongs.

          https://youtu.be/r7x-RGfd0Yk

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My 2012 Macbook Air which is 6 years old already has an SSD like this.

    This must be the rest of the computer market dragging its feet again like with UEFI and USB C.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Last time I looked the MAC didn't have a bank of 20 or more of these, wasn't external accessible, wasn't hot swappable, wasn't enterprise class, had smaller capacity and was slower.

      But bang on other wise.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ac did you read the article or did you just not understand it?

    3. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Actually if we are going to be picky the PCIe type SSD's (which aren't the same as NVME but close) didn't arrive on Macs until the 2013 model year.

      So your whole post is a bag of fail.

    4. Paul

      Yeah, also my server doesn't have an emoji bar like the Macbook Pro, so I can't display the server status on the front in pretty pictures.

      Also, its memory isn't soldered in, which means I don't get the opportunity to throw it away but have to keep them damn thing and upgrade it instead, which is a real nuisance.

      I really don't know what the server designers are up to, surely they should be copying Apple better.

      That's sarcasm by the way.

  3. TRT Silver badge

    There are already...

    channel suppliers who are making far better use of NVMe and even software/firmware based FTL... they're just not using this form-factor to do it. And therein I see an issue - proprietary lock-in.

    It's certainly an interesting field to watch things mature in!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: There are already...

      "And therein I see an issue - proprietary lock-in."

      Yes. Why create interoperable standards when you can make something unique and propriety and try to be king of the hill? As usually happens, eventually one will win out and some manufactures will lose. As will many buyers. VHS/BetaMax, Amiga/Atarri, all over again.

      PS, Amiga was better!

  4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Isolinear

    They look just like Isoliner Chips from Star Trek. Other than being green boards rather than crystaline. Perhaps they should package them in translucent plastic and complete the illusion.

    I just remember my theory some 25 years ago that software would start getting supplied as thin storage chips, and you would have a row of slots on your PC that you would plug them into (merely keeping the settings and documents on the HDD). Granted, I was picking up the idea from the IBM PCjr, but these are more what I imagined them looking like. The advent of laptops & extra-small form factor machines would have destroyed the concept anyway.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Isolinear

      Ha! I was thinking about the time it takes to hot swap a NVMe and rebuild... it brought to mind that episode where Data was brought in to rearrange the isolinear chips because he could do it faster. If they had to wait for the array to rebalance each time, the Enterprise would have been toast.

      1. Paul

        Re: Isolinear

        Never let logic and reasoning get in the way of a movie plot line.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Isolinear

          Or a TV series - The worst offender in recent years must be Zoo.

          I mean how the hell does a half sister have the foresight to rescue\set up the accident for the heroes long presumed dead child in Africa (& hitherto unknown in the preceding two series), arrange childcare (& passport) when she would barely be of age able to drink in the US legally for some perceived slight of favoritism to occur some years later.

    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Isolinear

      For Plug N Play Applications - Sideways ROM on a BBC Mode B went back a little further than 25 years ago.

  5. The Average Joe

    One will succeed and the other will fail

    so... You designing a new 1U server and you have to pay a $25 per machine royalty to Intel if you use the Intel ruler or $0 for the Samsung ruler... What do you pick when designing. Will your boss or company be happy about paying Intel more for every server chassis you sell or not???

    Think of the licensing for Thunderbolt from Intel. How well did it sell? How well did it get put on every system since 2011 with thunderbolt 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0? Well they had to drop the licensing royalties around 3.0 because nobody was using it but Apple... With USB 3.1 most users do not care about Thunderbolt...

    So welcome to the new Itamium of the SSD/NVME world! Lets start arranging the chairs on the deck. ;)

  6. -tim
    Coat

    Where is the backwards compatibility?

    For some odd reason, there seems to be some very odd backwards compatibility in hardware formats. For example 8x 3.5" drives will fit nicely in an 8" disk drive case yet 8 inch floppies were very hard to find by the time the 3.5 inch drives were introduced. Some of the ill fated 2ish and 3 inch drives could fit four in a 5.25 half hight drive bay.

    While the Intel ruler format is long, it still is about a connector width shorter than the old 8" drives which happens to be about a nano-light second.

    /mines the one with about a million 1 x 2 x 3 mm drive chips lost in the pocket.

  7. Nimby
    Meh

    Uncertainty abounds.

    I'm just not sure what to think of either format, but I do know this is going to get messy. I can see where for enterprise class, this makes perfect sense ... but will be pretty much incompatible with desk boxes except as single-slot options like M.2.

    The advantage of reusing the spinning rust shape was that that everyone could use it because everyone had it. Even weird wonky designs could be handled because a SATA cable is a flexible thing.

    I love my M.2 for performance, but I couldn't make a proper M.2 RAID5 in my desktop if I wanted to. These new NVMe formats face the same challenge. How much will it matter to manufacturers that they cannot share so much between rackmount and box storage designs? I think that will be the real question, how much it costs them to maintain the differing formats. Because there's just no way in the near future to replace the 2.5" SSD form factor with any of these.

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