Intel’s push for petabyte SSDs requires new ‘ruler’ form factor

“There aren’t many ways to make data center storage exciting, but mentioning a drive that could hold up to one petabyte (1,000 terabytes) comes close,” a href=”” target=”_new”>Richard Lawler reports for Engadget. “Intel is making the case to swap out old disk-based drives in data centers with SSDs, and as part of that it’s showing off a new ‘Ruler’ form factor.”

Jamie Fletcher reports for TechGage, “The new ‘Ruler’ form factor is so named by Intel for its ‘long, skinny shape’ and is all about storage density with the least amount of power and cooling required. Intel plans for these new ruler SSDs to make their way into super high-density storage racks, with up to 1PB (one Petabyte) in a 1U server. To put that in perspective, to achieve the same storage with 10TB hard drives, requires a fully loaded, 100-bay 4U server.”

“Unfortunately, this is just a tease at the moment, as Intel have not published more than a marketing statement and the slide we managed to acquire,” Fletcher reports. “No word on dimensions or connectors, but it may end up using a standard SATA or U.2 SAS-enabled connector.”


Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’ll take two! All of this 4K video and RAW images we’re taking with our iPhones have to go somewhere!


  1. I want a storage method that writes molecules to zero’s and one’s (on or off) and is impervious to the march of time. A 100 Zettabyte drive costing about $149.

    Is that too much to ask??? C’mon fellas!

    1. Back in 1986, I bought my first mass-storage device. The Mac Plus had two 800K floppy drives, which was a wonderful 4-fold increase on the single 400K drive in the original Mac (which had to hold the operating system, MacWrite, MacPaint, and a few data files). Still, I wanted more, so I went to PCs Limited in Austin (Michael Dell still worked behind the counter occasionally) and got a hard drive.

      It cost me $800 for 30 megabytes. I thought that was a better bargain than the standard SCSI drive at the time, which was 20M for $600. I had no notion how I would ever use that much storage, but I was young and single.

      A few weeks ago, I bought a 32 gigabyte USB thumb drive for $10 plus tax—more than 1000 times the storage for 1/80 of the price. So, I fully expect affordable petabyte drives within the near future.

      1. TxUser,

        The Mac Plus had a single drive. Yes, it did ship with the huge 800 kbyte drive, but it had only one. It wasn’t until the SE shipped that a Mac in that form factor had two drives. You could hook up an external floppy drive to the Plus and thus have two, but internally it had only one.

        The most popular 30 megabyte SCSI drive of the time was the “Photon 30” by Warp 9 Engineering. (I bought one virtually the day they came out.) You *could* put a hard drive internally into a Plus (you could do that with a 512 k “Fat Mac” too, but it required a bit of hacking and “case cracking” (I remember that weird case cracking tool and the LONG torx tool.) There were even two companies that sold kits to do it, but I don’t remember their names.

        As an aside I’m putting together a system that ingests approximately 2.4 petabytes of raw data every day, day-in and day-out. (Yes, that works out to about 0.87 exabytes a year.) The ground rules from the customer is having to keep every bit forever.

        We were looking at (and anticipating using) Intel’s Optane 3D XPoint technology, but that does not seem to be panning out the way they claimed it would a year or two ago. (Claimed huge jumps in storage density and speed and huge power savings over standard SSDs.) While this petabyte SSD might be Optane based, I would have expected Intel to loudly proclaim that point if it were.

        Now Intel seems to be pre-announcing a very high density push back to SSDs. We’ll all just have to wait and see what transpires. Luckily for me I don’t need to have the system fully operational until 2020!

  2. No way this would be SAS – 12Gb/sec would put the performance density (IOPS per TB) of this thing way below a 5400 SATA disk- massive bottleneck. PCIe/NVMe- or something faster.

    1. Well SATA is 6Gb/sec and PCIe is 16Gbs. But only per lane, raw transfer rates – and lets not forget that SATA is half duplex and less efficient from a protocol standpoint than SAS and NVMe. SATA is single lane, while most SAS drives today are 2 port and many NVMe are 4 lane, giving NVMe a theoretical bandwidth advantage until SAS4 is out. But both relegate SATA out of any performance market.

      IOPS is highly driven by protocol. SAS and NVMe can achieve similar levels of IOPS after factoring in protocol overhead. This is why enterprise applications use SAS and NVMe SSDs.

  3. This nebulous form factor is to be used for convenient ‘portable’ SSDs that can be popped in and out of server racks on demand. But it’s interesting that they describe them as enabling better cooling. I want to see inside. Maybe the metal shell is enough to dissipate the additional heat.

    1. One of the other advantages SSC has over hard drives, aside from the blazingly fast – hold on to your seat – speed, is it uses a less power. My laptop battery last a LOT longer now that I switched fro HD to SSD in the same laptop. Hopefully that can someday translate into less heat generated.

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