Toshiba on Tuesday announced it has developed a new XFMEXPRESS form factor for "removable PCIe attached, NVMe memory devices," otherwise known as SSDs. These are not like any traditional SSDs, however, but smaller and lower-height ones to enable fast storage in increasingly thinner and lighter devices, including ultrabooks and things like VR headsets.
"With a new form factor and an innovative connector, XFMEXPRESS technology delivers an unparalleled combination of features designed to revolutionize ultra-mobile PCs, IoT devices and various embedded applications. Recognizing the need for a new class of removable storage, Toshiba Memory leveraged its extensive background in single-package memory designs to develop XFMEXPRESS technology," Toshiba explains.
The new form factor measures just 14 x 18 x 1.4 mm and offers a 252mm2 footprint. This, according to Toshiba, optimizes the mounting space for ultra-compact host devices without sacrificing performance or serviceability.
"With this minimized z-height, the XFMEXPRESS form factor is excellent for thin and light notebooks and creates new design possibilities for next- generation applications and systems," Toshiba says.
XFMEXPRESS features a hinge-type connector that flips up and open. A specialized NVMe drive then slips into the slot, and the lid closes and locks into place. This means that XFMEXPRESS storage is removable and upgradeable. According to Toshiba, this also has the added benefit of acting like a heatsink, with a metal cover that dissipates heat.
Due to the size, Toshiba envisions XFMEXPRESS being utilized in a variety of applications, from thin and light laptops and gaming consoles, to portable storage gadgets and self-driving automobiles.
Intended as a scalable form factor, XFMEXPRESS is both PCie 3.0 and 4.0 capable, and can be configured with two lanes or four lanes. This essentially means that once PCie 4.0 permeates into mobile gadgets (as it pertains to consumers, AMD's X570 chipset is the only place where official PCIe 4.0 support exists), XFMEXPRESS will be ready.
As for speed, Toshiba says XFMEXPRESS supports up to 4GB/s currently (theoretical maximum), and will be capable of double that (8GB/s) in the next generation.
"Innovation like this is only made possible by redefining storage technology itself," said Jeremy Werner, senior vice president and general manager, SSD Business Unit, Toshiba Memory America, Inc. "From the PCB design to the connector, no other solution comes close to the combined size, speed, and serviceability of XFMEXPRESS technology. Toshiba Memory is excited to introduce this revolutionary new form factor to the market and enhance next generation applications."
Toshiba did not say exactly when XFMEXPRESS will show up in actual products, but we imagine it will be soon.