Kioxia doubles capacity, write speed of client gumstick SSD

Kioxia has replaced its gumstick client SSD with a new model with twice the capacity and double the random write speed of its predecessor.

The BG5 with its 1TB maximum capacity and PCIe gen 4 interface has been replaced by the BG6 with the same interface but a 2TB capacity. Like the BG5 it is an M.2 format drive in either 2230 or single-sided 2280 format and uses TLC (3 bits per cell) flash with a host-managed DRAM buffer. The BG5 used 112-layer 3D NAND, Kioxia’s BiCS 5 generation, but the new BG6 uses 162-layer BiCS 6 flash.

Neville Ichhaporia, Senior Veep and GM of Kioxia America’s SSD business unit, said: “Our new Kioxia BG6 SSDs deliver increased performance and density in a small footprint, making them well-suited to today’s ‘work and play from anywhere’ lifestyle.” 

The BG6 has across the board performance improvements compared to the BG5, both random and sequential: 

The random write IOPS have doubled from the BG5’s 450,00 to the BG6’s 900,000. Other speeds have increased as well but not by so much. The 2TB version goes faster than the 1TB version and we can expect the 250GB and 512GB drives to be slower again when they become available.

Kioxia chart

Kioxia has not supplied any endurance numbers for the BG6. We asked for them and a spokesperson said Kioxia “will release the full specification in July”. It says the new drive has:

  • Support for the latest TCG Pyrite and Opal standards.  
  • Power Loss Notification signal support to protect data against forced shut downs. 
  • Sideband signal (PERST#, CLKREQ# and PLN#) support for both 1.8V and 3.3V. 
  • Supports platform FW recovery feature. 
  • Support for the NVMe technology 1.4c feature set and basic management command over System Management Bus (SMBus), enabling tighter thermal management.

Having the drive use a DRAM buffer in the host makes it cheaper to manufacture. The BG6 does not have 256GB and 512GB capacities available yet, as they are still under development. All-in-all the BG6 looks a straightforward better drive than the BG5, thanks to the extra layers in the NAND and, no doubt, updated firmware in the controller.

Kioxia hasn’t announced pricing information yet but will have the BG6 series hardware on display at Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas this week. The series starts sampling in the second half of 2023, when OEM customers can give it the once-over.

Bootnote. This writer’s MacBook Air with its 256GB flash drive looks positively anaemic compared to a 2TB M.2 SSD. Having 2TB available would be great. And if Kioxia populated the other side of its M.2 2280 variant we could envisage a 4TB drive. That’s serious storage for a notebook.