Toshiba BG SSDs pack 3D TLC flash into tiny M.2 NVMe drives

On August 8, beautiful Santa Clara, California is hosting the 2016 Flash Memory Summit, and it's no surprise that Toshiba will be there. The Japanese electronics giant is already talking about a new series of products it will be showing at the summit. The so-called BG Series are NVMe SSDs that mount the controller and flash on the same 16x20mm package. The new drives will come in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities, and in both BGA and removable (M.2) forms.

Toshiba's current-generation BG1 SSDs

The new drives aren't likely to set any performance records, as they're limited to two lanes of PCI Express 3.0. Still, they are NVMe SSDs, and among the first devices to combine the new protocol with 3D TLC flash memory. Toshiba says using its latest BiCS 3D flash memory allowed the company to fit a 512GB SSD on an M.2 card just 30 mm long. Given the emphasis on the drives' compact dimensions, they're probably intended for laptops, NUCs, and other tight spaces. Still, the removable M.2 version is the standard 22mm in width, so it should slot into motherboards with the appropriate slot.

Toshiba didn't share any specific performance information, unfortunately, but it did emphasize the drives' support for the NVMe-standard Host Memory Buffer technology. In short form, this technology allows the drive to requisition a portion of the system's main memory for caching. The flipside of this emphasis is that these drives are probably DRAM-less, which has become common on budget-oriented TLC drives. If true, these may be the most cost-effective NVMe disks yet. We'll probably find out more next week during the Flash Memory Summit.

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