SFF Glossary

A glossary of common SFF terminology. (Yikes - just one sentence in and we've already confronted something that needs defining…)

Term Definition
SFF Small Form Factor. A term Intel officially designates to x86 computer systems that are 19 liters in volume or less. The term is also used more generally to refer to any system that is expressly designed to be smaller than “normal”.

With that out of the way, all other definitions will be sorted alphabetically:

Term Definition
ATX Advanced Technology eXtended. Originally a standard for motherboards but now also refers to the commonly used power supply form factor.
CPU Central Processing Unit. The primary component in a computer responsible for performing logical operations, the CPU is widely considered to be the “brains” of any system.
HDD Hard Disk Drive, also called hard drive or hard disk. Traditional HDD's conform to the 3.5“ form factor (the 3.5” referring to the width of the device), and rely on spinning magnetic platters and heads to store and retrieve data. Smaller form factors (2.5“, M.2) and non-mechanical technologies (solid state) have become more popular as they've decreased in cost, however.
IPC Instruction Per Clock/Cycle. One measurement of a processor's performance, in terms of the number of instructions it can execute in each clock cycle. This in part explains the reason using clock speeds to judge performance between CPUs of different architectures can be difficult; A CPU with a lower clock speed but higher IPC can outperform a different CPU that has a higher clock speed but lower IPC.
M.2 A specification for internally-mounted expansion cards, and more specifically meant to provide an ultra-compact form factor for solid state storage devices. Not to be confused with NVMe or SATA, M.2 is a physical standard that various logical interfaces can use.
NVMe NVM Express or Non-Volatile Memory Express. a logical device interface specification for accessing non-volatile storage media attached via PCI Express (PCIe) bus.
PCIe Peripheral Component Interconnect Express. A serial expansion bus standard that proves a universal interface for connecting peripherals and components to a computer. Various CPU architectures and form factors provide a variety of slots, lanes, and speeds within this specification.
PEG Pci Express Graphics. Typically used when talking about power connectors for graphics cards, which come in 6-pin and 6+2-pin/8-pin varieties.
SATA Serial ATA or Serial AT Attachment. A computer bus interface meant to provide connectivity of storage devices to computers.
SSD Solid State Drive. Storage devices that have no moving parts, and usually rely on NAND cells and a controller to store data.