Korean DRAM and NAND flash giant SK Hynix brought its latest memory innovations to the 2020 International CES. The star attraction at their booth was the "4D NAND" technology, and some of the first client-segment SSDs based on it. As a concept, 4D NAND surfaced way back
in August 2018, and no, it doesn't involve the 4th dimension. Traditional 3D NAND chips use charge-trap flash (CTF) stacks spatially located next to a peripheral block that's responsible for wiring out all of those CTF stacks. In 4D NAND, the peripheral block is stacked along with the CTF stack itself, conserving real-estate on the 2-D plane (which can then be spent on increasing density). We caught two 128-layer 4D NAND-based client-segment drives inbound for 2020, the Platinum P31 M.2 NVMe, and Gold P31 M.2 NVMe. The already launched Gold S31 SATA drive was also there.
The Platinum P31 and Gold P31 are technically identical, differing only with capacity (and its proportionate endurance figure). Both are PCI-Express 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.3 drives, built entirely with in-house hardware, i.e., the controller, DRAM cache, and of course the 128-layer 4D NAND flash are all made by SK Hynix. The Platinum P31 comes in just 2 TB capacity with 1,500 TBW endurance; while the Gold P31 comes in 500 GB and 1 TB capacities, with 375 TBW and 750 TBW, respectively. Both drives offer up to 3,500 MB/s sequential reads and up to 3,200 MB/s sequential writes. Also spotted was a prototype 4D NAND-based M.2-22110 drive for the enterprise-segment, with features such as a capacitor bank that protects against power failures.
Moving on, we spied a new-generation DDR5 RDIMM by SK Hynix. Designed for next-generation enterprise platforms such as Intel "Sapphire Rapids," the RDIMM ticks at DDR5-4800 MHz, offering 64 GB of density. Sticking with DRAM, we spotted SK Hynix' latest LPDDR4X and prototype LPDDR5 memory solutions designed to power the next-generation of 5G smartphones and ultraportable computers. A smartphone with their fastest production LPDDR4X solution and UFS 3.0 storage was used to offer a public live image processing demo in which camera viewfinder fields from the phone's front camera were generating four high-quality filter previews on-the-fly (something that requires immense processing power and storage bandwidth). LPDDR4X is already pushing data-rates north of 4,667 MT/s DDR, and LPDDR5 will push it even further, with frequencies starting at 5,500 MT/s, at a lower power envelope than LPDDR4X.