Kioxia BG6 Series M.2 2230 PCIe 4.0 SSD Kit Adds BiCS6 to the Mix

Kioxia’s BG series of M.2 2230 client NVMe SSDs have proven to be very popular with OEMs and commercial system builders due to their low cost and small physical size. Today, the company introduces a new generation of products in this postage stamp-sized lineup. The BG6 series builds on the Gen 4 support added in BG5 by updating the NAND generation from BiCS5 (112L) to BiCS6 (162L) for select capacities. The increase in per die capacity now allows Kioxia to bring 2TB M.2 2230 SSDs to market. While the BG5 series comes in capacities up to 1TB, the BG6 series adds 2TB of storage. However, the NAND generation update is only reserved for the 1TB and 2TB models.

Kioxia’s BG series of SSDs originally began as a single-chip solution for OEMs in either a BGA package or an M.2 2230 module. The advent of PCIe 4.0 and its requirements for increased thermal space led Kioxia to phase out its single-chip BGA solution starting with the BG5 which Introduced in late 2021. The BG6 series continues the DRAMless strategy and dual-chip design (separate controller and packet flash) of BG5.

While the BG5’s performance numbers put it strictly in the entry-level category of PCIe 4.0 SSDs, an update to NAND has now inflated performance to mainstream levels acceptable for the sector. The DRAM-less nature and the use of the DRAM (Host Memory Buffer – HMB) system for Flash Translation Layer (FTL) storage hampers performance a bit, keeping it from reaching high-end specs. However, this translates into lower initial cost and improved thermal performance/lower cooling costs – major limitations for OEMs and pre-engineered system integrators.

Kioxia BG6 SSD specifications
capacity 256 GB 512 GB 1 terabyte 2 terabytes
form factor M.2 2230 or M.2 2280
user interface PCIe Gen4 x4, NVMe 1.4c
NAND flash 112L BiCS5 3D TLC 162 liter BiCS6 3D TLC
Sequential reading ? megabyte/sec ? megabyte/sec 6000 MB / sec 6000 MB / sec
Sequential writing ? megabyte/sec ? megabyte/sec 5000 MB / sec 5300 MB / sec
Random reading ? IOPS ? IOPS 650 thousand IOPS 850 thousand IOPS
random write ? IOPS ? IOPS 900 thousand IOPS 900 thousand IOPS
power active ? w ? w ? w ? w
unemployed ? MW ? MW ? MW ? MW

The company is focusing on 1TB and 2TB storage units with BG6 due to the high demand for these capacities in the end market. 256GB and 512GB variants are in development. While the M.2 2230 form factor is expected to be the mainstay, Kioxia also plans to sell single-sided M.2 2280 versions for systems that don’t support M.2 2230 SSDs.

In addition to client systems, Kioxia also expects BG6 SSDs to be used as boot drives in servers and storage arrays. To achieve this, there are a handful of features that aren’t essential for consumer SSDs (such as support for the NVMe 1.4c specification including interfacing via SMBus for greater thermal management, encryption with TCG Pyrite/Opal, power loss notification for protection against forced shutdown, and system Primary Firmware Recovery).

Availability of performance numbers for a 1TB SKU allows us to note that BG6 has 1.7x more sequential performance numbers than BG5, random reads are 1.3x better, while random writes are doubled in performance. Obviously these are ready new numbers (like typical specifications for consumer/customer SSDs). Energy consumption figures were not available at the time of the announcement [Update: Kioxia indicated that the finalized specifications (inclusive of power numbers) should become available in July].

Kioxia will be sampling the drives to OEMs and system integrators in the second half of the year. Systems equipped with these drives can be expected to reach consumers around the holiday season or early next year. Pricing information was not provided as part of the announcement, but Kioxia is showing this information at Dell Technologies World 2023 held in Las Vegas May 22-25.

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