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Intel working on Next Generation Form Factor SSDs

Intel working on Next Generation Form Factor SSDs

Intel is rumoured to be working on a Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF) for Ultrabook solid-state drives.

Intel is reportedly working on a new solid-state drive (SSD) connectivity standard for Ultrabooks, with the intention of solving some of the issues surrounding the existing mSATA standard.

A compact version of the SATA standard, mSATA allows designers to create a compact single-board storage device which connects directly to a port on the motherboard. Originally developed for use in ultraportable laptops where there is no room for a traditional 2.5-inch drive, mSATA has also become popular in high-end motherboards for adding in a high-speed SSD caching drive.

The design of the standard isn't without its issues, however: in order to create a mSATA SSD, manufacturers need to design around a very limited board area, meaning a maximum of four or five NAND flash modules are available - giving the devices an absolute maximum storage capacity of 512GB using current-generation NAND flash chips.

According to a report from industry rumour-monger DigiTimes - and, it goes without saying, completely unverified by Intel which is sticking to its usual refusal to comment on 'industry rumours or speculation' - Intel is gathering together PC manufacturers and storage specialists with a view to hashing out a new storage standard dubbed the Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF.)

The NGFF standard, it is claimed, is designed as a revision to mSATA which would allow for larger printed circuit boards (PCBs) to be manufactured. Each board would be identical in width and thickness, and differ only in length with 20mm, 42mm, 60mm, 80mm, and 120mm versions being suggested as the initial line-up. In addition to the extra length, the standard allows for chips to be fitted to either side of the PCB - potentially doubling the storage capacity of the devices while requiring no more footprint than an mSATA SSD.

Intel, for its part, has refused to comment on claims that it is to make the NGFF SSD a requirement of Ultrabook devices, or on the rumour that storage specialists Samsung, SanDisk and Micron have all been asked to participate in the creation of the standard.

10 Comments

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greigaitken 6th August 2012, 13:51 Quote
forget notebook, that fit in smartphone
[-Stash-] 6th August 2012, 14:23 Quote
I would love to get some faster storage in my phone. It's barely acceptable as it stands.
dolphie 6th August 2012, 15:18 Quote
And bigger! My iPhone is 16gig which just isn't enough for me. There was a 32gig option when I got it but it was out of stock. Next time I upgrade I would really love a 64gig.
AmEv 6th August 2012, 23:00 Quote
I'd love one in my tablet! The thing in there is SLOW....
Bakes 7th August 2012, 00:22 Quote
one of these things in a tablet would be roughly the same size as the motherboard...
AmEv 7th August 2012, 02:11 Quote
10.1"?
chrismarkham1982 7th August 2012, 07:55 Quote
motherboards in tablets are half to 2 thirds of the overall package, although I have seen smaller.
Bloody_Pete 7th August 2012, 13:42 Quote
Apart from the iPad(3), the motherboard in that is 2cm in down done side. The rest of the space is the battery!

Back to the point, I'm interested in this as it means we'll have smaller cases, and if motherboards didn't come with SATA ports they could be smaller too (thinking from a purely desktop stand point).
chrismarkham1982 8th August 2012, 01:56 Quote
^This
BLC 8th August 2012, 10:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloody_Pete
Apart from the iPad(3), the motherboard in that is 2cm in down done side. The rest of the space is the battery!

Back to the point, I'm interested in this as it means we'll have smaller cases, and if motherboards didn't come with SATA ports they could be smaller too (thinking from a purely desktop stand point).

Yeah, tablet hardware really is miniscule, despite the power of the components. That's one of the things that makes ARM's rise in profile/popularity a very exciting prospect. Just look at the size of the Raspberry Pi - that would be even smaller if it didn't need a host of big ugly ports stuck to the board.

And it's a very intriguing idea indeed, if this is actually true. The minimum size mentioned in the article is 20mm; the prospect of having a motherboard with just a 20mm hard drive poking out - and no other storage or optical drives - is a pretty tasty one. Even if you don't get massive capacities at that size, as little as 16GB would be enough to install an OS and a few basic applications - perfect for an average home desktop or an HTPC; you can always offload large file storage to a network location. Even if network storage is not really an option for mainstream consumers, it's easy for an SME or your average bit-tech reader :).
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