"Interoperability is a big issue here. There's a number of PCIe solutions coming to market right now. The amount of industry investment in this area is phenomenal. But most of it is going toward a card," Pappas said. "IT knows what drives are and how to replace them. But generally shutting down a system, opening it up and replacing a card is not something they care to do."
Pappas noted that SSDs with PCIe connections could be swapped out non-disruptivly by administrators.
PCIe offers far greater throughput than SAS and SATA, neither of which can fully support the I/Os per second that a solid state drive can.
"The driving trend to even have the requirement for PCIe is based on SSDs, which drive phenomenal I/Os per second. Of course, not only are they very high performance, but they're also lower power than spinning media," Pappas said.
The working group is focused on three tasks:
- Creating a connector specification to promote interoperability among several storage protocols, including SAS/SATA 3.0 and PCIe 3;
- Creating a form factor that builds upon the current 2.5-inch standard to enable enclosure flexibility while supporting the new connector definition and expanding the power envelope in support of higher performance; and
- Offering hot plug capability to create high-availability and serviceability benefits.
Work group member Gary Kotzure, a Technology Strategist with Dell, said the the standards work should be completed by the end of 2011. However, equipment manufacturers could begin using the specification to build new SSDs and systems that support them by mid-2011, Kotzure said.
The group has already completed its concept work, which includes the scope of the specification.
It will now begin working on the connector mechanics - the signals and pins - then the drive's thermal properties and mechanics and lastly the drives ability to support non-disruptive replacement, according to Kotzure.
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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