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Silicon Motion Launches SM2256, Prepares SM2260 PCIe G3

Silicon Motion lifted the lid on the company's first flash controller designed to work with 3bit-per-cell NAND flash at Computex 2015. Our readers already know quite a bit about the SM2256 after our March preview article that tested the fresh controller with Samsung's planar TLC flash. 

Several companies plan to release retail products around the SM2256 4-channel controller, including ADATA, which just announced the new SP550 using the SM2256. Silicon Motion works with leading SSD industry partners to deliver products to market quickly. The company provides reference designs and engineering support for firmware development. Over the last three days, several partners have commented to us about how easy it is to work with Silicon Motion and how quickly the partnership bears fruit. 

Silicon Motion's reputation quickly spread across the industry, and the company has been chosen to work on several important projects with leading NAND makers. The SM2256 is ready to support TLC flash from both Toshiba and Micron. Micron just announced 16nm TLC at Computex, and we've already seen the SM2256 working with the flash at desirable speeds.

The SM2260 PCIe 3.0 x4 controller is the hidden gem inside Silicon Motion's private suite. SMI is still keeping details close to the vest, but we expect to hear more about the product at Flash Memory Summit in August. The company doesn't want to divulge too many details at this time. SMI is the leading value-centric controller provider to large SSD manufacturers at present, and it currently sits in a position of power. It doesn't need media dishing the little details that will eventual crop up.

We do know the SM2260 is a PCI-Express 3.0 x4 to flash controller that works with both MLC and TLC NAND. Performance should be around 2200 MB/s sequential read and 1100 MB/s sequential write. Random performance should be up to 200,000 random read IOPS with random write IOPS around 125,000.

The real question at this time is the number of channels from the controller to the NAND flash. In the m.2 2280 form factor, four channels are sufficient, but SMI may throw us a curveball later with support for eight channels. That would double the capacity of flash addressable by the controller and increase the performance. 

Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Follow Tom's Hardware on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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