Kioxia launches BG5 Series PCIe 4.0 SSDs in M.2 2230

Capacities up to 1TB will be available – so it might be a boost for Steam Deck owners.

Kioxia BG5

Storage specialist Kioxia has launched a new line of NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSDs, aiming at size-constrained form factors. Kioxia says it has designed this series with a balance of performance, cost, and power to provide wide appeal. Of particular interest is the promise of good performance (up to 3,500MB/s transfers) in the smallest M.2 form factor, which measures a tiny 22 x 30mm.

Kioxia’s BG5 SSDs are built upon the firm’s fifth-generation BiCS Flash 3D Flash memory technology and uses a PCIe 64GT/s interface (Gen4 x4 lanes). So far so good, but the size constraints and desire to build these devices to a budget means they are DRAM-less designs.

Instead of a DRAM or SLC cache, Kioxia decided to go with the latest Host Memory Buffer (HMB) technology – providing the performance you expect but co-opting some system RAM for caching. Any third-party tester of these drives needs to look closely at any side effects of this decision.

“Market adoption of DRAM-less SSDs is increasing steadily, thanks to HMB’s ability to reduce the overall bill of materials without degrading the data read/write performance of the SSD,” noted Neville Ichhaporia, VP of SSD marketing and product management, at Kioxia America.  “The fact that Kioxia realized PCIe 4.0 performance with a DRAM-less architecture is a win for mainstream client applications.”

Key features of the Kioxia BG5 series are as follows:

  • Up to 3,500MB/s sequential read and 2,900MB/s sequential write
  • Up to 500,000 IOPS random read and 450,000 IOPS random write
  • Support for the latest TCG Pyrite and Opal standards, as well as End-to-End Data Protection ensures data is secure whether at home or in the office.
  • Forward-looking support for the NVMe 1.4 feature set and basic management command over System Management Bus (SMBus)
  • Power Loss Notification signal support to protect data against forced shut downs
  • Form factor is thermally optimised

If you have a tiny laptop, handheld or other device that only accepts M.2 2230 size drives, the new Kioxia BG5 might be a boon. Previously we haven’t seen any SSDs in this form factor in sizes greater than 512GB, and we are teased that pricing will be good, as well. While this SSD might sound a good choice for boosting a Steam Deck to 1TB built-in capacity, we aren’t certain at this time whether HMB technology works with this particular device. One good sign is that Valve talked about being fussy with thermals in choosing the M.2 2230 devices, and Kioxia claims the BG5 is a thermally-optimised drive.

Pricing for the Kioxia BG5 in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB should be available shortly.