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Does swapping the controller chip within some ssd always imply data loss, or is it possible that all the relevant information (like translation layer parameters) is stored on the NAND chips?

I found some great article but it didn't mention how the translation layer is stored: https://adreca.net/NAND-Flash-Data-Recovery-Cookbook.pdf

The datasheet of the controller does not mention, whether it has internal memory, but it does mention, that the controller uses AES-encryption to store the data and is opal compliant.

I guess this implies that the key is not just stored on the NAND, as this would defeat the purpose of disk encryption (although I remember that some pentesters discovered the plain storage of the AES-key in some SSDs)

Note: Swapping identical controller chips on an Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB (SSDSC2BW240A3L) for example.

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  • are you asking about soldering on a new chip?
    – Keltari
    Dec 28, 2021 at 20:59

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If you're thinking about "fixing" a bad SSD by replacing its controller chip, this is a BAD idea.

This operations requires exact knowledge of the SSD, both for the extraction of the chip and for installation as regarding the required temperatures, and also some costly professional-level tools.

It's not for nothing that these onboard components are soldered by automated machinery that can work with a much higher precision than the unsteady human hand.

The boards themselves can have several layers of copper, so attempting to do this by hand basically involves a very high chance to destroy the motherboard as well as the chip if you take a soldering iron to them.

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  • I appreciate your worries and the kind warning. In fact, besides me having access to the appropriate resources to professionally reflow and transplant SMDs, this is about the academic aspect of swapping a controller chip.
    – Semnodime
    Dec 28, 2021 at 22:09
  • It's not academical at all, and professional recovery companies can do just that. An example might be the article [SSD Recovery: How Pros Bring Flash Memory Back To Life.
    – harrymc
    Dec 29, 2021 at 8:02

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