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Viking Enterprise Solutions 2022 Predictions: Trends to Watch in Hardware Storage

vmblog predictions 2022 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2022.  Read them in this 14th annual series exclusive.

2022 Trends to Watch in Hardware Storage

By Odie Killen, VP of Server and Storage Engineering, Viking Enterprise Solutions

The modern approach to tiered storage is proving itself to be a resilient one that stands the test of time. That said, there are many variables at play in the storage industry as we move into the new year. Current supply chain constraints, increasing bandwidth requirements and a continued focus on efficiency, cost and performance will all drive key developments moving forward. Key trends to watch include:

  • Adoption of SAS-4 storage protocols will occur faster than initially expected. The use of SAS-4 (Serial attached SCSCI) chips will leapfrog current SAS-3 solutions due to increased availability of SAS-4 chipsets in the supply chain. Along with fewer available SAS-3 chips, vendors are being pushed to make tough decisions in terms of allocating production to specific parts due to the overall chip shortage and a demand-supply imbalance. While SAS-4 chipsets offer new functionality that doubles bandwidth and enables faster access to data, the product can downshift to support today's current SAS-3 infrastructures on the front end.
  • 3.5 inch spinning discs will continue to remain dominant. SAS 3.5 inch spinning discs play a major role in the storage tiers and won't be displaced by new Flash form factors for the foreseeable future, as the SAS-3 infrastructure carries forward. For SSDs to completely replace spinning media, there will need to be a fundamental breakthrough in device physics that doesn't exist today. A new approach is needed by silicon manufacturers to balance the cost-per-gigabyte and cost-per-IOP parody between rotating media and Flash.
  • Increased uptake in E1 and E3 drive form factors. E1 and E3 are form factors for a family of Flash-based SSDs that replace traditional U.2 2.5 inch SSD form factors in servers and storage systems. These devices are based on the NVMe interface, and provide improved performance and lower latency over traditional SAS-based SSDs.  The overall physical design of these products also enables better management of airflow, increasing thermal efficiency.

There will be a bifurcation in uptake of these SSD designs, based on different environments and situations. The E1 form factor and its single-port design lends itself well to hyperscalers and companies that have more node based, erasure-coding protection schemes and architectures, where entire nodes can fail and go offline without degrading access to data. The newer E3 form factor, which includes a dual port design, ensures high availability and will be the winner for NVME Gen5 SSDs in the traditional enterprise storage market. The E3 design will eventually replace U.2 and U.3 products.

  • Gradual transition to PCIe 5 standards. As cloud-based workloads and new data intensive applications like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) continue to grow, the new PCIe 5 (peripheral component interconnect express) standard aims to double data transfer rates from the current PCIe 4 specification. The physical interface of E1 and E3 drives are ideally suited for the layout and signal integrity requirements associated with this faster standard.

However, the transition to PCIe 5 won't be easy and certainly won't happen overnight. The physical layer implementation challenges of doubling data rates could potentially delay adoption. Initial use of PCIe 5 will most likely be focused on I/O (input/output) communication, with the first systems containing PCIe 4 SSDs with the option to include host-side add in cards that support PCIe 5 connections.

2022 will certainly be an interesting year for data storage, as we continue to see the technology evolve and provide benefits for better latency, performance, and value.



Odie Killen 

Odie Killen is the VP of Server and Storage Engineering at Viking Enterprise Solutions, a division of Sanmina, where he leads a multi-disciplined engineering team developing enterprise server and storage products. He formerly held engineering leadership roles at Western Digital and Seagate.

Published Friday, November 19, 2021 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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