Although U.2 connectors have been around for a while now, there is still a lot of confusion about what they are and how they compare to other types of NVMe connector. The main comparison seems to be between U.2 and the more widely recognised M.2, as the former offers a host of advantages that may eventually render its predecessor obsolete. We’ll soon be introducing U.2 hot-swappable bays into our rack mount products, so wanted to clear up some of this confusion for the benefit of our customers.
What is U.2?
Initially released as SFF-8639 and more recently renamed for the consumer market, a U.2 connector looks similar to the SAS interface and supports the non-volatile memory express (NVMe) host controller interface. Created to alleviate some of the challenges experienced when using connectors like M.2, U.2 is a larger 2.5” format SSD and so a more easily accessible alternative.
Why U.2 over M.2?
M.2 is an incredibly popular SSD connector among both users and manufacturers. And it’s no wonder – its ability to offer up to 6x the speed of a standard hard drive make it hugely appealing. In spite of these gains, however, M.2 by no means an ideal solution.
Here are three reasons why U.2 connectors are a better bet than M.2:
Usually fixed directly to the motherboard, M.2 connectors are not easy to replace or remove, which can be inconvenient and time-consuming. U.2 instead connects to the motherboard via a cable, and so is easily hot-swappable from the front of the PC, making the replacement process that much faster.
Originally intended for thinner devices, M.2 connectors are generally very small. Because of their restricted form factor, their storage capacity is limited to a maximum of 2TB. U.2, on the other hand, is available in both 2.5” and 3.5” form factors, allowing more than double this capacity. Importantly, although M.2 is small, it typically takes up a large footprint on the motherboard. U.2 uses a lot less space, often enabling manufacturers to offer more U.2 ports than M.2.
Another considerable advantage of the U.2 connector is that its form factor allows for a higher operating temperature. Being that much larger than an M.2 means heat dissipation is greater, seeing performance isn’t impeded when undergoing intensive tasks.
Coming to our PCs
U.2 offers all the benefits of an M.2 connector while improving accessibility, storage capacity, and much more. We’ll soon be introducing U.2 into our line-up of rack mount products, starting with our upcoming 1U Max with plans to make this available throughout our entire range in the near future.
If you would like to better understand how U.2 could benefit your rack mount PC, or discover more about our upcoming 1U product, please get in touch.