Micron Unveils Bulky Prototypes of External SSDs with USB4

Micron’s consumer brand Crucial Memory features USB4 SSDs at CES 2024

Micron’s consumer brand, Crucial Memory, unveiled two USB4 solid-state drive (SSD) prototypes at CES 2024, reports AnandTech. The devices are still in development and are unlikely to be released in their current form.

USB4 SSDs’ Unique Features

The two devices are distinguished by the ASMedia ASM2464PD controller, which allows 40 Gbps USB4 communication and PCIe 4.0 x4 interface. The controller also incorporates a USB Type-C PD component. The portable SSD is designed in a gumstick form factor, housing a 2TB Micron 3400 OEM in a clear M.2 2280 case.

Crucial Memory's portable SSD

The relatively large casing is presumed to suffice for passive cooling. Similar to the high-performing SanDisk Extreme Pro V2, despite its drawbacks, this tradition could be continued with the move to USB4. Conversely, ADATA has chosen to play safe through active cooling.

Inside view of the portable SSD

Large Performance-Based Desktop SSDs

The larger Micron desktop SSD with USB4 represents its uniqueness. The U.3 form factor SSD is mounted onto a case equipped with a small fan. Unlike OWC that utilized an array of M.2 SSDs in software RAID within a large enclosure, Micron opted for a single high-capacity disk— an 8TB in the displayed model. Although such a device requires an external power source, it can power a laptop via USB4, posing a reasonable compromise. The device would have been more appealing had it had multiple USB Type-A/Type-C ports, but here, performance and stability take precedence, given the active cooling and PCIe 4.0.

Micron's desktop SSD

Tradeoff between Performance and Energy Efficiency

The prototypes demonstrated by Micron place performance over energy efficiency. These issues will be addressed with the USB4 controller Phison U21 and a product currently under development by Silicon Motion. It is unlikely that fifth-generation external storage devices will hit the market in the first half of 2024.

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