Samsung now producing world's smallest 512GB SSD; it's half the weight of a dime

The new PM971 can transfer a 5GB-equivalent HD movie in about 3 seconds

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Samsung's new PM971-NVMe SSD packs up to 512GB of capacity into a package that's just 20mm x 16mm x 1.5mm in size and weighs only about one gram.

Credit: Samsung

Samsung today announced it is mass producing the world's smallest 512GB PCIe SSD that comes in a single ball grid array package and weighs less than a dime.

Samsung's PM971-NVMe SSD is aimed at ultra-thin notebooks and was manufacturing by combining 16 of Samsung's 48-layer 256-gigabit (Gb) V-NAND flash chips, one 20-nanometer 4Gbit LPDDR4 mobile DRAM chip and a high-performance Samsung controller.

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The new SSD is just 20mm x 16mm x 1.5mm in size and weighs about one gram, less than half the weight of a U.S. dime (2.3 grams).

The single-package SSD's volume is approximately a hundredth of a 2.5-in form factor SSD or hard disk drive, and its surface area is about one-fifth of an M.2 SSD, which is a little larger than a postage stamp. The PM971's diminutive size allows for much more design flexibility for computer device manufacturers, Samsung said.

"The introduction of this small-scale SSD will help global PC companies to make timely launches of slimmer, more stylish computing devices, while offering consumers a more satisfactory computing environment," Jung-bae Lee, senior vice president of Samsung's Memory Product Planning & Application Engineering Team, said in a statement.

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Unlike traditional notebook SSDs, which are based on serial ATA connectivity and come in 2.5-in form factors, NVMe PCIe SSDs have multiple I/O lanes and install directly on a computer's motherboard. That markedly increases throughput.

The PM971-NVMe SSD easily surpasses the speeds of SSDs that use the SATA 6Gbps interface; the PM971 has read and write speeds of up to 1,500MBps and 900MBps, respectively. The diminutive Samsung SSD has random read and write speeds of up to 190,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) and 150,000 IOPS, respectively.

Samsung said its SSD can transfer a 5GB-equivalent, full-HD movie in about 3 seconds or download it in about 6 seconds.

To achieve its level of performance, the PM971-NVMe SSD uses Samsung's TurboWrite technology, which the company first unveiled in 2013 in its 840 EVO internal 2.5-in SSD. TurboWrite creates a high-performance write buffer to which new data is first written.

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Samsung's new PM971-NVMe SSD packs 512GB of capacity into a single ball grid array (BGA) package.

TurboWrite allows a host system to first write data to the drive's single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash high-performance buffer at accelerated speeds; during idle periods, the data is moved from the buffer to the primary storage region of the SSD. In short, the TurboWrite feature is meant to simulate the performance of an SLC NAND flash in the multi-level cell (MLC) NAND.

Along with a 512GB capacity version, the PM971 SSD will be manufactured in 256GB and 128GB capacities. Samsung will start shipping the new SSDs to its computer-maker customers this month.

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