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JMicron JMF670H SSD Controller Preview

Technical Specifications

SATA

  • Compliant with Serial ATA International Organization: Serial ATA Revision 3.1.
  • Supports one-port 1.5/3.0/6.0Gb/s SATA I/II/III interface
  • Supports ATA-8 command set

CPU

  • 32-bit embedded processor - ARM9 base instruction set
  • 32KB embedded masked program ROM
  • 192KB embedded system RAM with ITCM

Flash

  • Support maximum 8CE’s Flash per channel
  • Support Toshiba/SanDisk 32/24/19/15nm flash
  • Support Intel/Micron 25/20/16nm flash
  • Support legacy/Toggle 1.0/Toggle 2.0 mode flash
  • Enhanced endurance by dynamic/static wear-leveling
  • Supports 4K/8K/16K bytes page size
  • Supports dynamic power management
  • SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology)
  • Data integrity under power-cycling
  • Supports BCH 60/72-bit ECC
  • Support Shift read feature of NAND flash when ECC fail

SDRAM

  • Supports one module DDR3
  • Support up to 4Gb

System

  • Integrated SATA III port and four-channel flash controller
  • LED indicator for SATA read/write access (optional)
  • LED indicator for SATA PHY link up (optional)
  • Provides 22 GPIO pins for customer
  • Provides UART and JTAG for software debugging
  • Built-in power-up self-test (BIST)
  • Manual and automatic self-diagnostics
  • Provides voltage low detect interrupt
  • 288-ball TFBGA package

Firmware

  • Supports online SATA firmware update
  • Support 1/2/4/8 banks selected free
  • Firmware supports 1/2/4 channels selected free

The JMF670H controller uses powerful BCH ECC for MLC flash, so we suspect that this part will have a short life-cycle. JMicron plans to introduce a new processor specifically tailored for TLC NAND in the future. Hopefully we learn more about the JMF810 and JMF811 controllers at Computex, ahead of products shipping in 2016.

JMF670H improves upon the JMF667H controller currently in use by several SSD manufacturers. The JMF670H supports both Toshiba/SanDisk 15nm MLC, SK hynix 16nm MLC and Intel/Micron (IMFT) 16nm flash, as well as legacy flash. We'll take a look at two types of flash today.

IMFT's 16nm flash has been shipping for around a year now. In fact, Crucial released the BX100 and MX200 at CES last January, both with Micron 16nm NAND. The MX200 family has a few capacity sizes with pSLC, though not all models utilize the new feature. Crucial tells us that the larger drives don't require pSLC.

Micron says this about FortisFlash: "Get the performance of high-speed MLC while boosting endurance with our 20nm and 16nm FortisFlash devices, which come in standard BGA packages of one to 16 die stacks. With FortisFlash NAND, you can count on higher endurance than standard MLC without the usage limitations of Enterprise MLC (eMLC). Pair FortisFlash with advanced ECC methods, and you can exceed the standard 3000 write/erase cycles and see endurance levels over 10,000 P/E cycles in well-engineered systems. You can also improve data transfer rates with FortisFlash devices, which support ONFI’s high-speed synchronous interface.”

Flash Forward announced 15nm MLC quite some time ago. I've already tested two products with this NAND inside, one well over a year ago and one more recently. We suspect Flash Forward had issues with yields, and that's why retail products have taken so long getting to market. The first 15nm drive, SanDisk's X400, was announced a few days ago. It's designed for the embedded and low-cost HDD replacement segments.

The Toshiba/SanDisk 15nm node packs more dies per wafer than any other NAND on the market. As long as yields are good, the flash could cost less than even Micron's 16nm stuff, possibly leading to another price drop across new SSDs. We hope that advancements in flash will pave the way for $60 256GB SSDs by Black Friday. 

JMicron provides firmware to its partners, as well as reference design material for component layout, power schematics and so on. Companies can quickly move through internal R&D stages and progress to production of retail products very quickly. Given the know-how to program pSLC modes, SSD vendors without the engineering know-how can get JMicron's help.

Like the other controller makers, JMIcron came up with a catchy name its pSLC mode: Write Booster.

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