The excitement in the client SSD space recently has understandably been on the Gen 5 front. However, cooling requirements have made it difficult for vendors to bring effective M.2 NVMe Gen 5 SSDs to the market. In that context, it appears that Gen 4 M.2 SSDs will continue to have a much longer runway than was previously estimated. In order to better serve that market segment, Silicon Motion is introducing a new product in their PCIe 4.0-capable NVMe SSD controller lineup. The company's roadmap is not much of a secret, as we do expect their Gen 5 client controllers to land in Q4 2023 - in fact, an end product based on it from ADATA was already demonstrated by ADATA at the 2023 CES. However, today marks the official launch date for the SM2268XT - the third-generation DRAM-less Gen 4 SSD controller meant to play in the entry-level segment in terms of pricing, but move to the high end in terms of performance .

The key updates in the SM2268XT over the SM2267XT and SM2269XT are the increase in the per-channel data rate from 1600 MT/s to 3200 MT/s and support for the latest 2xx layer 3D TLC (as well as QLC) from different flash vendors. The new controller also brings in support for some NVMe 2.0 features (compared to NVMe 1.4 in the SM2267XT and SM2269XT). Like the SM2269XT, the LDPC engine codeword size in the SM2268XT is also 4KB (compared to 2KB in the SM2267XT). The move to a 12nm process also brings in better power efficiency.

THE SM2268XT will be competing against in-house controllers from Western Digital (such as the one used in the WD_BLACK SN770), and the upcoming Phison E21T as well as InnoGrit's RainierQX IG5220. The claimed performance numbers across all four corners for the SM2268XT are leading in its class.

Silicon Motion Client/Consumer Gen 4 NVMe SSD Controllers
  SM2264 SM2267 SM2267XT SM2269XT SM2268XT
Market Segment High-End Consumer Mainstream Consumer
12nm 28nm 12nm
Arm CPU Cores 4x ARM Cortex R8 2x ARM Cortex R5 2x ARM Cortex R8
Error Correction 4KB LDPC 2KB LDPC 4KB LDPC
Host Interface PCIe 4.0 x4
NAND Channels, Interface Speed 8ch
1600 MT/s
1200 MT/s
1200 MT/s
1600 MT/s
3200 MT/s
CEs per Channel 8 8 4
Sequential Read 7500 MB/s 3900 MB/s 3500 MB/s 5100 MB/s 7400 MB/s
Sequential Write 7000 MB/s 3500 MB/s 3000 MB/s 4800 MB/s 6500 MB/s
4KB Random Read IOPS 1.3M 500K 500K (HMB) / 200K (No HMB) 900K 1.2M
4KB Random Write IOPS 1.2M 500K 500K 900K 1.2M

The company indicates that the SM2268XT is currently sampling to its key customers and the launch of SSDs based on it should be imminent. We expect the usual suspects such as ADATA to announce SSDs based on the new controller soon.

Source: Silicon Motion

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  • Threska - Thursday, February 16, 2023 - link

    Kind of small. Will it even fit in any machines?
  • bernstein - Thursday, February 16, 2023 - link

    fits steam deck
  • Drkrieger01 - Friday, February 17, 2023 - link

    Yep, Steam Deck, Surface tablets, notebooks, all kinds of devices can fit these. The smaller they are, the more likely they are for ultra-portable devices.
  • Maltz - Thursday, February 16, 2023 - link

    Anecdotally, every device I've seen that can accept the typical 80mm drives also has posts to accept the shorter ones.
  • cbm80 - Thursday, February 16, 2023 - link

    Not true, they support 42mm but not 30mm. But they sell M2 extenders.
  • ganeshts - Thursday, February 16, 2023 - link

    Silicon Motion's customers can make NVMe SSDs in a variety of form-factors using this controller - M.2 2230 / 2242 / 2260 / 2280 / 22110.. even U.2 or U.3 if they want. But, given the specs and capabilities, it is likely we will only see M.2 2230 / 2242 / 2260 / 2280 SSDs using the SM2268XT.
  • meacupla - Thursday, February 16, 2023 - link

    Plenty of mid-range laptops will ship with an OEM 2230 m.2 SSD, even though they have room for a 2280.
    Most low and mid range consumer SSDs are configured in 2280 size, even though they don't require a larger PCB.
    And yes, the smaller sizes should fit in larger slots just fine.
  • ballsystemlord - Thursday, February 16, 2023 - link

    The problem is that now laptop makers will decide to stop making laptops with large slots so SSD capacity will not be able to be upgraded.
  • meacupla - Friday, February 17, 2023 - link

    Somehow, I really doubt laptop makers would opt for a slot size that is less than 2280. They really like to throw in whatever SSD that meets minimum performance requirements they can get their hands on, and that SSD might not always be the smaller 2230 or 2242 size.

    Only Apple is dumb enough to do that.
  • artifex - Friday, February 17, 2023 - link

    Surface Pros have 2230 slots.

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