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Samsung Unveils First SSDs With 5nm Controller

The PM9C1a SSD from Samsung employs a 5nm controller and 7th Generation V-NAND.

Samsung debuted its new PM9C1a solid-state drive on Thursday, which employs a controller built with 5 nanometer-class process technology. The innovative production node-enabled Samsung to significantly reduce the power consumption of the SSD controller and, in turn, the power consumption of the entire drive. The PM9C1a family is primarily designed for mainstream and mainstream performance notebooks.

From a performance standpoint, Samsung’s PM9C1a offers sequential read and write speeds of up to 6 GB/s and 5.60 GB/s, respectively, which is quite impressive for a mainstream drive with a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface. In the meantime, they offer up to 900 thousand and 1 million random reads and write IOPS (respectively), which is comparable to some of the best SSDs currently available. The storage devices will be offered in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB capacities, as well as M.2-2230, M.2-2242, and M.2-2280 form factors, to meet the requirements of various laptop designs.

One of the most intriguing features of the new PM9C1a drives is the 5nm controller. Samsung’s new controller, manufactured using one of the company’s 5nm-class nodes (we assume this is SF5 aka 5LPP, though we are speculating), is rumored to be significantly more power efficient than its predecessors and rivals manufactured with thicker process technologies. The majority of modern SSD controllers are implemented using a 12nm-class manufacturing technology, so the use of a 5nm-class node to reduce power consumption appears to be quite aggressive. According to the manufacturer, the new PM9C1a drive offers ‘up to 70% greater power efficiency per watt’ than its predecessor PM9B1 and consumes roughly 10% less power in idle mode.

Samsung has not yet disclosed all of the controller’s specifications for DRAM-less SSDs, but we expect it to be capable of handling the latest V-NAND memory types (likely both 3D TLC and 3D QLC variants) and to support advanced signal processing, error-correcting, and encryption technologies. Specifically, the chip supports the Device Identifier Composition Engine (DICE (opens in a new tab)) root of trust security standard, which is designed to prevent firmware tampering and a variety of attacks. DICE support is particularly advantageous for PC OEMs, the PM9C1a’s target market.

In a statement, Yong Ho Song, executive vice president of memory solution product & development at Samsung Electronics, said, “Our new PM9C1a SSD will deliver a robust combination of superior performance, greater power efficiency, and increased security, which are the qualities most valued by PC users.” As we continue to advance innovation in the PC SSD space, we are committed to developing storage that satisfies the diverse and ever-changing market demands.

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