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A First Look At Samsung's PM971 Entry-Level NVMe SSD

Last week we broke the Samsung PM981 / 980 NVMe SSD story with a first look at the drive in 512GB and 1TB capacity sizes. Today we tracked down the PM971 NVMe SSD that may come to market with Samsung SSD 970 branding.

The PM971 was first introduced to us as a 22mm x 16mm x 1.5mm multichip package that crams the Samsung Proton controller, LPDDR4 DRAM, and V-NAND flash into a single chip. The drive is said to deliver up to 1,500 MBps sequential read and up to 900 MBps sequential write speeds. Samsung claims random performance up to 190,000 IOPS read and 170,000 IOPS write.

These are the first images of the PM971 in an M.2 form factor. 

When announced, Samsung stated the PM971-NVMe BGA drive would ship in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacity sizes. With new 64-layer V-NAND in both TLC and QLC on the horizon, Samsung could quickly ramp up capacity sizes. This product could be used to aggressively enter the consumer entry-level NVMe segment where the Intel 600p currently owns the majority of the marketshare.

BGA SSDs are not sold to consumers as standalone components because they are embedded parts that must be installed by expensive machines. Samsung will not be the only company to release a BGA SSD soldered to an M.2 card, but the PM971 may be the most exciting. The other products in this configuration are DRAMless models with Host Memory Buffer (HMB) technology. The PM971 still has an actual DRAM chip, even if we can't see it. We've proven that DRAM is required to deliver a pleasant user experience with our extensive product testing.


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Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.