Fusion-io is developing a 2.5 inch form factor SSD according to an article released by Channel Register today. The 2 week old prototype was apparently on display at the HP Discover event in Vienna.
There are several key takeaways to this news, one being that Fusion-io has long berated SSDs for poor performance. This would lead many to question why they are looking to enter the 2.5 inch SSD market.
The answer lies partly in the interface that they are utilizing for this new device, the SCSI Express protocol. By foregoing the typical SAS/SATA interfaces, the SCSI Express approach utilizes PCIe deployment. The standard is geared towards flash based devices specifically, allowing much higher performance than older standards that are designed for rotating media.
With this type of connection over the PCIe connection, the prototype was able to register an amazing 95,000 IOPS!
SCSI Express is 5x faster than 6Gb/s SAS and SATA, with expected overhead to be somewhere around 350,000 IOPS, so expect the final polished version of this device to be much faster. Utilizing the newer specification is going to allow for much higher performance than previously capable, with the prototype being connected via PCIe with an SFF 8639 backplane connector (PCIe 12Gbps 6 lane).
The SCSI Express standard is an emerging new technology for flash storage and there is a primary competitor in the NVMe specification, also designed with flash in mind. Look for competition between these two specifications to heat up as there are many very large vendors lining up behind each of the competing solutions.