A new solid-state drive (SSD) from Samsung manages to cram 512 GB of storage capacity into a single, ultra-tiny package that includes NAND flash memory, DRAM, and a controller. The new SSD weighs only about a gram and measures 20mm in length.

The new model, called the PM971-NVMe (pictured above), features a non-volatile memory express controller (NVMe) interface. A NVMe drive is optimized for high performance and scalability, featuring a streamlined register interface and a command set that is designed for the enterprise, datacenter, and client.

SSDs have grown rapidly in popularity as supplements to or replacements for the traditional hard disk drives, particularly in laptops and mobile devices where small size and durability are major premiums. Unfortunately, trying to squeeze more and more data into smaller spaces has made it difficult for SSDs to compete in areas where capacity concerns trump space considerations.

More Design Options

Samsung said it's planning to market the new drives to makers of next-generation PCs and ultra-slim laptops. The new drives also triple the performance of typical SATA SSDs.

“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,” said Jung-bae Lee, senior vice president, Samsung Electronics’ Memory Product Planning & Application Engineering team, in a statement.

The new model will be available in 512 GB, 256 GB, and 128 GB options. Samsung said that it plans to begin shipping the SSDs to customers worldwide by the end of the month.

Large Capacity in a Small Body

Samsung was able to squeeze more than half a terabyte into a single chip about the size of a postage stamp by combining 16 of Samsung’s 48-layer 256-gigabit (Gb) V-NAND flash chips, into a single ball grid array. The SSD also features a 20-nanometer 4 Gb LPDDR4 mobile DRAM chip and a high-performance Samsung controller.

The new chip measures 20mm x 16mm x 1.5mm (0.78 inches x 0.63 inches x 0.06 inches), smaller than the average postage stamp. The volume of the SSDs is approximately a hundredth of a 2.5-inch SSD or HDD (hard-disk drive), and its surface area is about one-fifth of an M.2 SSD, allowing much more design flexibility for computing device manufacturers.

In addition, the company said that the PM971-NVMe delivers a level of performance that surpasses the typical speed limit of a SATA 6 Gb/s interface. It enables sequential read and write speeds of up to 1,500 MB/s and 900 MB/s respectively, when TurboWrite technology is used.

That’s the equivalent of transferring a 5 GB, Full-HD movie in about 3 seconds or downloading it in about 6 seconds. The PM971-NVMe also boasts random read and write IOPS (input/output operations per second) of up to 190K and 150K respectively, to handle high-speed operations. A traditional hard drive, by contrast, will only process up to 120 IOPS in random reads, making the new SSD more than 1500 times faster than an HDD in that regard.