Tuesday, August 6th 2019

Toshiba Announces the XFMExpress Socketed Non-volatile Memory Standard

Toshiba Memory today announced XFMExpress, a new standard of socketed internal non-volatile memory for use in thin-and-light consumer electronics, ultra-thin notebooks, and IoT devices. XFMExpress seeks to solve the increasing problem of repairability of thin-and-light devices, in which the SSD is hardwired onto the device's mainboard and non-replaceable. Toshiba believes M.2 doesn't fully meet the Z-height requirements of today's thin-and-light device designers, and hence there is need for a new space-saving storage device standard that remains internal to the device, but allows for repairability by swapping out the storage device.

This does not compete with SD Express, as it is not being pushed as a removable storage solution, but rather an internal storage device that's easy to replace. The XFMExpress effort consists of two components, the XFMExpress card, which has roughly similar dimensions to an SD card (14 mm x 18 mm x 1.4 mm), but performance and capacity rivaling full-fledged M.2 NVMe SSDs; and a new socket Toshiba designed in partnership with JAE (Japan Aviation Electronics corp). This socket, made of steel and contact points that have been directly soldered onto the device's mainboard, is an LGA, with a thin (<0.2 mm thick) retention brace.
The XFMExpress standard uses PCI-Express x4 as its physical layer, and the NVMe protocol, requiring no additional drivers for NVMe-aware operating systems and firmware. The standard currently uses PCI-Express gen 3.0 x4, but will incorporate PCI-Express gen 4.0 x4 "very soon." Under the hood, an XFMExpress module has a controller, a DRAM cache, and stacked 3D NAND flash, and is capable of utilizing the interface bandwidth to the fullest.
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12 Comments on Toshiba Announces the XFMExpress Socketed Non-volatile Memory Standard

#1
QinX
I actually like this and can see this being very useful for tablets and upcoming Project Athena type notebooks.
Let's hope it gains traction and doesn't have that bad of a mark up compared to a regular NVME SSD.
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#2
TesterAnon
I would love the idea of user removable eMMC/flash storage, dying devices sandisk eMMC has brought me a huge amount of problems when it comes to data recovery.
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#3
lexluthermiester
I love this concept! Toshiba, you've got a winner here, do right by it and make licensing and royalty fees fair for everyone(read inexpensive)!
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#4
Shihabyooo
btarunr, post: 4092466, member: 43587"
thin-and-light consumer electronics, ultra-thin notebooks, and IoT devices.
I like modularity and all, but I don't see this picking up. Those markets are infamous for being unserviceable intentionally.
It's becoming rarer and rarer to see ultrabooks with user-serviceable batteries, even changing drives requires taking off the entire back these days! And let's not even get to smartphones' trend of losing SD support (many already past that "archaic" idea removable batteries).
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#5
bug
The thing is, these may even be a boon for desktops! Just think how each motherboard comes with 6-8 SATA ports, but has the physical space for at most 3 M.2 slots. You can fit these things better on an ATX board ;)
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#7
dyonoctis
In a few years Apple will reinvent this with a proprietary form factor, and it will become a revolution.
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#8
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
dyonoctis, post: 4093209, member: 111394"
In a few years Apple will reinvent this with a proprietary form factor, and it will become a revolution.
I'm sure Toshiba filed a ton of patents to stop that from happening. It's wealthy enough to defend its IP.
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#9
bug
btarunr, post: 4093654, member: 43587"
I'm sure Toshiba filed a ton of patents to stop that from happening. It's wealthy enough to defend its IP.
I'm sure Apple will make them in pink/gold so Toshiba's patents don't apply :D
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#10
_JP_
btarunr, post: 4093654, member: 43587"
I'm sure Toshiba filed a ton of patents to stop that from happening. It's wealthy enough to defend its IP.
Apple will just use rounded corners, with circular contact pads ;)
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#11
HugsNotDrugs
Interesting socket but to service it you need quite a bit of room to undo the latch. In other words the device needs to be taken apart.

The mechanism should have been a typical slide-in instead so that it could be accessible near the ports or edge of any device and wouldn't require any Z height to service.
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#12
Tartaros
Socketed Chips 2: Electronic Bogaloo.

It's a good thing to recover, precisely one of the reasons I didn't go with an ultrabook for work is the lack of expansion possibilities, even Surface convertibles have soldered ram. Now we need mxm gpus to become popular.
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