In 2018, we saw SATA III’s strength as a SSD interface give way to the NVMe future. In 2019, that will accelerate. Helping to usher in the new wave of NVMe products is the Toshiba BG4 which is a massive improvement over the previous generation Toshiba BG3. These SSDs are not meant to be the fastest and highest endurance. Instead, they are designed for applications like embedded storage and for boot drives.
Toshiba BG4 Single Package NVMe SSD
The new Toshiba BG4 single package NVMe SSDs are a major improvement over the previous generation. They have more performance, more capacity, and lower power. These are the three things that generally make a good generation over generation improvement.
With the single BGA package that can either be soldered onto a motherboard or attached to a 30mm M.2 NVMe SSD PCB, the new Toshiba BG4 series has a number of improvements including a doubling of capacity to 1TB. Using the 96-layer BiCS NAND flash, which we saw in our Toshiba XG6 NVMe SSD coverage, the new SSD gets a major density advantage even while decreasing Z-height for dense applications.
One of the biggest improvements is that the new SSD is using a PCIe Gen3 x4 interface instead of an x2 interface. These SSDs are not necessarily built for maximum performance, but the drives now simply offer more performance which is always welcome.
Toshiba also touts that it has made other background improvements to the drive which may be a bit more subtle than the raw performance numbers we look at. For basic server and appliance boot devices, these may well be a great option. We do not see many servers built with M.2 2230 slots, but this may be an opportunity for vendors to use a more compact form factor for mirrored boot deployments without using as much space on the motherboard.
Patrick asked Toshiba during our briefing about pricing. Since it is an “OEM product,” the company declined to give specific pricing. On the other hand, we expect that we will see pricing in the $30 ish range for 128GB drives. For those who wanted NVMe SSDs for boot devices instead of SATA DOMs, or SATA boot cards like the Dell EMC BOSS, the Toshiba BG4 may well be the next-generation option.