Published September 19, 2023
Author Elsa Assadian
The rapid growth of cloud storage and computing has been fueled by increasing demand for scalable and reliable data storage solutions. With the emergence of AI and large language models (LLMs), which require massive amounts of data and computing power, the need for high performance, reliability, and efficiency has become paramount. In this article, we will delve into the numerous benefits of Enterprise and Data center Storage Form Factor (EDSFF) SSDs in cloud storage and computing environments.
EDSFF is witnessing swift adoption by prominent Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and enterprise companies. Its versatility and performance advantages make it an attractive choice for modern computing environments. The EDSFF ecosystem encompasses various form factors, each with its own unique benefits.
This widespread adoption of EDSFF indicates its strong position as the preferred choice for next-generation cloud storage and computing infrastructure.
EDSFF SSDs offer a wide array of advantages that make them particularly well-suited for meeting the demands of cloud storage and computing. Let's explore the key benefits in detail.
1. Extensive Range of Options: EDSFF SSDs provide a comprehensive selection of capacity, performance, bandwidth, and form factors. Flexible options spann optimizations for high-density storage (E1.L), scalable performance (E1.S) and mainstream 2U servers (E3).
2. Unification of connector and pinout across form factors: All EDSFF drives are unified by a single connector and pinout across various form factors. This commonality among the connector, pinout, and set of protocols (NVMe, PCIe) gives the opportunity to have more flexible and efficient server designs. This unification as well as multiple sizes and form factors enhances scalability, flexibility, serviceability, and manageability, allowing organizations to tailor their storage solutions to their specific needs. Whether it's high-capacity storage or high-performance computing, EDSFF SSDs offer the necessary options.
The improvement of the connector and pinout vs U.2 or U.3 drives makes EDSFF a great option or necessity for PCIe Gen05 and beyond.
3. Enhanced Performance and Reliability: EDSFF SSDs support NVMe interfaces, PCIe Gen05, and beyond. This enables expedited data transfer rates, reduced latency, and improved signal integrity. The result is higher performance, faster data access, and enhanced data reliability, which are critical for the demanding workloads of AI and LLMs. EDSFF SSDs empower organizations to handle data-intensive applications more efficiently.
4. Cost Savings: EDSFF SSDs offer significant operational cost benefits. EDSFF drives are hot-pluggable and front-accessible which improves serviceability and manageability of EDSFF SSDs in the system and streamline maintenance and troubleshooting processes. This results in reduced downtime and increased productivity. Additionally, the ability to support multiple form factors with a single infrastructure optimizes resource utilization and reduces costs associated with maintaining multiple storage solutions.
5. Increased cooling efficiency: The design of EDSFF architectures allows for more efficient cooling solutions, ensuring the longevity and reliability of the storage devices within the server environments. Improved cooling also contributes to the overall energy efficiency of the system, cost saving, and sustainability.
Another advantage with EDSFF form factors is that they are designed to support increased power input compared to traditional 2.5-inch SSDs. While 2.5-inch SSDs typically max out at 25W, EDSFF SSDs can handle up to 70W. While the golden power budget for NAND storage or SSDs remains around 20 to 25 watts, higher power capacities are better suited for other electrical components such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), accelerators, network interface controller (NIC), or Compute Express Link (CXL) cards.
For even higher power demands, the E3.L form factor with double thickness (16.8mm) can support up to 70W. This makes it an ideal choice for devices such as FPGAs and accelerators that require substantial power resources to deliver their intended functions effectively.
While U.2 supports hot-swap and is relatively space-efficient, its design legacy in HDDs presents limitations for SSD optimizations. Transitions from U.2 to EDSFF will largely fall into three categories:
M.2 was originally designed for notebook PC storage where space efficiency is at a premium, but where serviceability and scalability are not as vital. The transition from M.2 to EDSFF will primarily focus on E1.S form factor. Servers aiming for a balance between storage density and higher-performance computing capabilities can benefit from the improved features of E1.S. Furthermore, E1.S will also be an opportunity to transition boot drives to a device that is hot-swappable.
EDSFF SSDs bring a multitude of benefits to cloud storage and computing environments. With their extensive range of options, enhanced performance and reliability, cost savings, and effective cooling, EDSFF SSDs are well-suited for meeting the demands of modern applications, especially AI and LLMs.
The rapid industry adoption of EDSFF and the transition away from legacy form factors like U.2 and M.2 further validate its effectiveness. As organizations continue to scale their cloud storage and computing capabilities and also move toward next-generation PCIe (PCIe Gen 05 and beyond), embracing EDSFF becomes crucial for maximizing efficiency, performance, and reliability.
Elsa Assadian, Sr Product Marketing Manager at Solidigm, specialized in Data Centers and Cloud Storage solutions. She has a Master’s degree in Engineering and 15 years of experience working on cutting-edge technologies at Solidigm, Intel and Mercedes Benz. She strongly believes in continuous improvement and innovation. In her free time, Elsa enjoys playing tennis and socializing.