Finding the ideal SSD for enterprise environments is not easy. Choosing the wrong interface type can limit the performance of the SSD, a wrong endurance rating can affect its life. Enterprise architectures are huge, and a wrong decision could prove fatal.  One other major criterion that affects your choice of SSD is its form factor.

A form factor is what defines how many SSDs can be fitted into your server chassis, or what data rate of SSDs, or how quickly it can be replaced without shutting down the entire system. Get the form factor wrong, and it may not fit in your preferred server.

There are wide arrays of form factors designed for your needs with definite pros and cons. However, the most common types are box-shaped forms factors (SAS, SATA, and U.2) and card-shaped form factors (PCIe-based AIC, and M.2).  Similar SSDs may showcase varied performance levels with the change in the choice of form factors.

Cost-effective - SATA

SATA is one of the first interfaces adopted for an SSD. SATA SSDs come in 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch box-shaped form factors and have bandwidth up to 6GT/s. These are considered as the first form of enterprise SSDs and are less expensive compared to its counterparts. SATA SSDs do not generally support high levels of expansion, with most servers capable of supporting fewer than 6 such devices.

Faster and Reliable - SAS

A SAS SSD is similar to SATA SSD in size and shape. However, it delivers a faster data transfer rate. These also support dual-port operation and are more reliable regarding error correction, data integrity, and high signal quality. These are largely used in enterprise servers and storage arrays with application workloads requiring high availability and high input/output capabilities.

Small Form Factor - U.2

Also known as SFF8639, U.2 is the most common form factor. It comes in a box shape and can support 4 lane PCIe interfaces and mechanically supports SATA and SAS interfaces. It consumes power up to 20W and is hot-pluggable. It also supports redundant storage like JBOD/JBOF. It packs up to 24 such drives in a 2U server.

Power Profile - AIC (Add-In-Card)

AIC is another commonly used form factor. This comes in a card shape and connects to the PCIe slot inside the server. This form factor is available only for SSDs that supports PCIe interface. Unlike U.2 SSDs they are not hot-pluggable but can support more than 4 PCIe lanes.

Compact Form Factor - M.2

M.2 is the card-shaped SSD form factor mostly used in data center environments. This is the most compact form factor compared to the others. It uses PCIe or SATA to communicate. However, it has poor thermal performance and poor long-term stability. It is neither hot-pluggable nor supportive of redundant systems.

Commercial off-the-shelf parts, in particular, have become increasingly susceptible to a shorter lifespan. Amphenol ICC is always a step ahead in developing next-generation products, which is footprint compatible with legacy and current generation products, which in turn decrease the rate of obsolescence in product application design. Amphenol ICC storage and card edge connectors support maximum bandwidth, minimum latency, expandability and hot-plug capability of the SSD.

Amphenol ICC’s U.2 application for enterprise SSD can offer PCIe Gen 4 and Gen 5 performance. Similarly, PCIe Gen 3/4 and M.2 includes 16GT/s performance, and 24G SAS is available to address high bandwidth.