Samsung this week said that it had begun mass production of its first SSDs in BGA form-factor. The PM971-NVMe tiny drive weighs about one gram, can store up to 512 GB of data and offers up to 1500 MB/s read speed. The SSDs will be used inside 2-in-1 hybrid computers, high-end tablets as well as ultra-thin notebooks later this year.

Samsung demonstrated its first BGA SSD earlier in 2016 and most of its specifications are generally known. The PM971 is based on up to 16 Samsung’s second-generation 48-layer MLC V-NAND. The SSD relies on Samsung's proprietary controller called Photon, which can extract high performance from a limited number of NAND channels and ICs thanks to architecture as well as the company’s proprietary TurboWrite technology. The PM971-NVMe SSD is equipped with a 512 MB LPDDR4 buffer, uses a PCIe 3.0 x2 interface and supports NVMe.

Samsung will ship three versions of its PM971-NVMe BGA SSDs with 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB capacities, which will be enough for modern convertibles, tablets and ultra-thin laptops. Dimensions of the PM971-NVMe are 20 mm × 16 mm × 1.5 mm and the weight is just about a gram. Judging by the physical sizes of the package, it seems that the new PM971-NVMe BGA SSDs from Samsung comply with mechanical specifications for BGA SSDs proposed by multiple companies to JEDEC last year. In any case, the key message here is that Samsung’s BGA SSDs are significantly smaller than the smallest M.2 modules and can thus save space inside SFF PCs to make them either thinner, or prolong their battery life.

Brief Specifications of Samsung BGA SSDs
Capacity 128 GB
256 GB
512 GB
Form Factor BGA
20 mm × 16 mm × 1.5 mm
Controller Samsung Photon
Interface PCIe 3.0 x2
Protocol NVMe
NAND Samsung's 48-layer MLC V-NAND
Sequential Read 1500 MB/s
Sequential Write 900 MB/s with TurboWrite
4KB Random Read (QD32) 190K IOPS
4KB Random Write (QD32) 150K IOPS

The PM971-NVMe SSD supports sequential read speed of up to 1500 MB/s as well as sequential write speed of up to 900 MB/s when the TurboWrite technology is enabled (earlier this year the company mentioned 600 MB/s write speed, but did not mention the TurboWrite). Samsung’s TurboWrite technology uses a portion of SSD’s NAND memory in pseudo-SLC mode, which significantly improves writing performance of the drive. Typically, Samsung uses its TurboWrite for its TLC NAND-based drives, which makes the PM971-NVMe the company’s first MLC-based SSD with a pseudo-SLC buffer. At this point we are not sure how exactly Samsung’s TurboWrite works in the PM971-NVMe and whether it speeds up or optimizes anything else apart from writing performance (since it is actually easier to read from SLC cells, the pSLC buffer can also help to improve read performance and even reduce power consumption). As for random performance, the PM971-NVMe SSD can perform 190K random read IOPS as well as up to 150K random write IOPS, according to Samsung.

Since the PM971-NVMe BGA SSDs are not designed for end-users, but for large PC suppliers as well as their OEMs/ODMs, Samsung does not disclose their prices. Right now, the company says that the it would start providing the new SSDs to its customers “this month”, which is not really relevant because the announcement was made on May 31. However, keep in mind that memory companies usually do not announce mass production until they have quantities of finished products ready to deliver to customers. Therefore, the PM971-NVMe drives may show up in actual devices sooner than one might think.

Source: Samsung

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  • fanofanand - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    "Typically, Samsung uses its TurboWrite for its TLC NAND-based drives, which makes the PM971-NVMe the company’s first MLC-based SSD with a pseudo-SLC buffer."

    Typically, reading prior to commenting enhances the experience for all.
  • Bulat Ziganshin - Thursday, June 15, 2017 - link

    not exactly this, but 850 evo 256 GB was died after writing more than 2 PB in test. 850 Pro is still alive :)
  • notveryodd - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    It's amazing to see how far storage has come... sorry if this is a weird question, but what fonts do you guys use for the tables? Looks really clean.
  • Raniz - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    A quick CSS inspection reveals that the font used in the tables is called "Arimo". I google search reveals that it's licensed under Apache License 2.0 and available through Google Fonts.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    That is small enough to fit onto an interposer right next to the HBM chips. Hint hint. Imagine CPU + GPU + 16GB shared HBM + 512GB flash, all in one package that easily fits onto a 4"x4" mainboard.
  • Eden-K121D - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    hmmm. All in one chip
  • lilmoe - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    "and can thus save space inside SFF PCs to make them either thinner, or prolong their battery life"

    Any word on load/idle/slumber power envelops?

    On another note, I hate how everything's going BGA...
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    Nonsense! Putting more balls in technology has been an important goal for basically everyone responsible for designing devices for years. In the recent past, we've started seeing RAM chips with balls, chipsets getting balls, and even CPUs exhibiting their balls for everyone to see. It's perfectly normal and completely natural for SSDs to finally grow their own set of balls for average consumers like you and me to fawn over each and every evening after we get home from work when all we want to do is curl up in bed with our favorite ball-equipped devices to blow off steam.

    So, in short, I'm all about Samsung foisting their balls on us. Even if the PM971-NVMe's balls are tiny, there are lots of them and they comply with JEDEC's standards regarding how you implement and properly use them. I can't imagine anyone else who doesn't agree with me when I say, "Hey world, all of us are eagerly anticipating grabbing your new, revolutionary balls off the tech meat market and we stand here in open-mouthed awe at how amazing they look!"
  • scholztec - Saturday, June 4, 2016 - link

    I signed in just to thank you for making me laugh my balls off.
  • osxandwindows - Saturday, June 4, 2016 - link


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