Intel to standardise Ultrabook SSD form factors

/ 4 years ago

A traditional mSATA SSD

Intel is making ambitious plans to introduce a brand new form factor of SSDs for the “Ultrabook” notebook standard. It wants to avoid confusion with the 2.5″ form factor, which currently sees some 2.5″ drives fit but others not. The reason is whilst the 2.5″ form factor does fit Ultrabooks, the thickness of the drives is crucial – with 2.5″ drives available from 7mm to 15mm in thickness the variation is simply too large.

The company plans to get into discussions with some of the biggest players in the SSD industry, big names include SanDisk, Micron, and Samsung. The topic of debate will be whether to introduce a new Intel designed standard dubbed “NGFF” or Next Generation Form Factor. NGFF is derived from an mSATA based storage device, somewhat similar to the low profile SATA form factor used in many Apple MacBook products.

Intel is in a bit of a hurry with its NGFF SSD plans because the current mSATA form-factor poses limitations, including limited PCB area, in which a limited number of ONFI channels can be wired out. NGFF most likely is mSATA with greater PCB area, allowing the same number of ONFI channels as 2.5-inch SSDs, with the latest generation of controllers and toggle-NAND flash memory. NGFF doesn’t increase the thickness of the SSD compared to mSATA, but merely elongates it (again, similar in form to Apple’s SSD specifications). Five length standards are being discussed between Intel and Ultrabook partners.