Thursday, May 7th 2020

Intel Ready with 144-layer 3D NAND On its Own, Talks 4-layer 3DXP, "Alder Stream" and "Keystone Harbor"

Intel's memory and storage products division now has a completely independent NAND flash technology development team post its split with Micron Technology, with which it was part of the IMFlash Technologies joint-venture. Intel is close to gaining a technological lead over Micron with a new 144-layer 3D NAND flash chip which will ship roughly around the time Micron begins pushing out its 128-layer 3D NAND chips. SK Hynix will begin shipping its 128-layer 3D NAND flash chips later this year. KIOXIA will put out 112-layer chips before the turn of the year. YMTC is developing its portfolio at a breakneck pace.

The 144-layer 3D NAND flash chip by Intel can handle up to four bits per cell (QLC), and can be configured to function as TLC or SLC, at lower densities. Intel will launch its first SSD based on this 144-layer QLC NAND flash chip, codenamed "Keystone Harbor," later this year. Development is underway at Intel for PLC (5 bits per cell) technology, which should drive up densities by 25 percent. Intel is also close to launching its second generation 3D X-point memory technology.
The 2nd gen 3D X-point memory chip by Intel will feature four layers on the physical media, as opposed to two on the first-gen. The first Optane product based on the new chip is codenamed "Alder Stream." The drive will launch later this year in a single-port variant, with dual-port variants planned for 2021. The drive uses an advanced new controller that features PCI-Express gen 4.0 host interface. It's likely that "Alder Stream" will be part of Intel's big next-gen Xeon "Sapphire Rapids" processor and "Eagle Stream" platform launch, which features PCIe gen 4.0.
Source: Blocks and Files
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45 Comments on Intel Ready with 144-layer 3D NAND On its Own, Talks 4-layer 3DXP, "Alder Stream" and "Keystone Harbor"

#1
Crackong
I want 3D X-point in m.2 2280.
Posted on Reply
#2
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Crackong
I want 3D X-point in m.2 2280.
Sure, buy an Optane M10.
Posted on Reply
#3
lexluthermiester
btarunr
The 144-layer 3D NAND flash chip by Intel can handle up to four bits per cell (QLC)
MLC or even TLC, ok. QLC? No fricken thank you!! I've tested that tech, utter rubbish. QLC has no place in bootable OS hosting SSD's..
btarunr
and can be configured to function as TLC or SLC, at lower densities.
That would only be useful if the durability is on par with native TLC/MLC/SLC tech.
Posted on Reply
#4
londiste
btarunr
Sure, buy an Optane M10.
M10 is 64GB max...
Posted on Reply
#5
watzupken
In short, this 144 layer 3D NAND is QLC. I totally ignored the remaining part about configuring it as a TLC/MLC at lower density.
Crackong
I want 3D X-point in m.2 2280.
Its not worth it. Not just is the price ridiculous as compared to a good NVME SSD, but it also consumes a lot of power and run hot. Sure there are benefits with Optane, but I will give it a pass. Same as this 144 layer cake. I feel only Intel is diligently marketing and pushing out QLC products where most manufacturers have gone fairly quiet on QLC SSDs.
Posted on Reply
#6
londiste
watzupken
In short, this 144 layer 3D NAND is QLC. I totally ignored the remaining part about configuring it as a TLC/MLC at lower density.
QLC, TLC, MLC, SLC.
Basically all the flash can work in smaller bits per cell modes as long as you are OK with the density hit. Not user-configurable obviously but manufacturer can.
watzupken
Its not worth it. Not just is the price ridiculous as compared to a good NVME SSD, but it also consumes a lot of power and run hot. Sure there are benefits with Optane, but I will give it a pass.
Depends. Consumer Optane drives at this point are too small or let down by controllers. Enterprise ones are OK but... enterprise, with prices to match. XPoint does have and awesome low queue depth performance which would be excellent for desktop.
watzupken
Same as this 144 layer cake. I feel only Intel is diligently marketing and pushing out QLC products where most manufacturers have gone fairly quiet on QLC SSDs.
I have a 2TB 660p as my games drive. The only time you feel the QLC is when drive is 95+% full. In any other case, it's a normal NVMe drive. As for other manufacturers, Crucial's P1 is there for consumer, ADATA has something as well, Samsung has the QVO line and Micron has 5210 ION drives for enterprise. This kind of makes sense with Flash manufacturers being at the forefront of this.

Layers by themselves apply to Flash itself and are not specific to xLC.
Posted on Reply
#7
Vayra86
Enough is enough. QLC was too much. This is beyond saving, pun intended.
Posted on Reply
#8
Tomorrow
Crackong
I want 3D X-point in m.2 2280.
Currently the only one is 22110. But im guessing you know that.
Posted on Reply
#9
Breit
lexluthermiester
MLC or even TLC, ok. QLC? No fricken thank you!! I've tested that tech, utter rubbish. QLC has no place in bootable OS hosting SSD's..
QLC isn't meant to be in a bootable OS hosting SSD anyway, so you're good. But I'd rather take a large QLC SSD than a mechanical hard drive for storage. Think NAS applications and such.
Posted on Reply
#10
londiste
Tomorrow
Currently the only one is 22110. But im guessing you know that.
- 905P has 380GB M.2 22110 version
- M10 has 16-64GB in M.2 2280
- 800P is 58-118GB in M.2 2280
Both M10 and 800p are PCIe 3.0 x2
Intended new models for the last two - M15 and 815P - were cancelled :(

H10 is the crap 2+2 lane Xpoint+Flash drive.
Basically, not much to choose from :(
Posted on Reply
#11
Tomorrow
Yep i meant the 905P as i don't consider the M and H models. Technically compatibility should not be an issue. Most motherboards support 22110 too. Atleast on M.2_A meaning primary slot. Looking forward to 2nd gen Xpoint but i don't expect availability and prices to improve. Micron's X100 is also still MIA.

Best bet for a fast boot drive at this point is to wait for 2nd gen PCI-E 4.0 controller from the usual suspects (Phison, Samsung etc).
Posted on Reply
#12
lexluthermiester
Breit
QLC isn't meant to be in a bootable OS hosting SSD anyway, so you're good.
Perhaps, but that's not stopped anyone and everyone from doing it.
Breit
But I'd rather take a large QLC SSD than a mechanical hard drive for storage. Think NAS applications and such.
Oh good grief no. Mechanical drives are FAR more reliable than any QLC based drive and HDD's have far more capacity and at much lower prices per GB.
Posted on Reply
#13
utmode
lexluthermiester
Perhaps, but that's not stopped anyone and everyone from doing it.

Oh good grief no. Mechanical drive are FAR more reliable than any QLC based drive and HDD's have far more capacity and at much lower prices per GB.
Agree - If you care about your data better to save in CMR mechanical drive. QLC drive will be prone to Quantum tunnelling hence data corruption. Drive manufacturer used to publish width of the cell, now they don't, I wonder why.
Posted on Reply
#14
Breit
lexluthermiester
Oh good grief no. Mechanical drives are FAR more reliable than any QLC based drive and HDD's have far more capacity and at much lower prices per GB.
That's what ZFS and redundancy is for. Price is a point, but that will come down as well.
Posted on Reply
#15
lexluthermiester
Breit
That's what ZFS and redundancy is for.
Not where single drive storage is concerned, which is the mast majority of usage.
Breit
Price is a point, but that will come down as well.
Not enough to justify the the unreliability risks..
Posted on Reply
#16
efikkan
lexluthermiester
MLC or even TLC, ok. QLC? No fricken thank you!! I've tested that tech, utter rubbish. QLC has no place in bootable OS hosting SSD's..
I don't like where this is heading. It's sad that in 2020, we are using more and more unreliable storage technologies.

But the OS drive is probably the drive I care the least about. I can always quickly set up the OS if it goes bad, but my precious files on the other hand.
Breit
That's what ZFS and redundancy is for. Price is a point, but that will come down as well.
RAID for sure, but I'm a bit more skeptical about the complexity of ZFS.
After several drives going bad, I changed my main computer to running 1 SSD for the OS, 2 SSDs in RAID 1 for work, and hard drives for backups.
Posted on Reply
#17
Ferrum Master
BTA is keeping silent about Samsung, yet he wrote an article about it. Basically... it would look like Intel being late to the party again.
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#18
InVasMani
Interestingly I don't know why 3D XPoint hasn't been launched as a small USB thumb drive to use as a ReadyCache for the operating system. I mean if they could do it cheaply enough 4GB-16GB at a reasonable price it might actually get some traction that it otherwise may not receive quite so quickly. That said it's a tough sell when you can get Primo Cache for like $30's.
Posted on Reply
#19
Tomorrow
InVasMani
Interestingly I don't know why 3D XPoint hasn't been launched as a small USB thumb drive to use as a ReadyCache for the operating system. I mean if they could do it cheaply enough 4GB-16GB at a reasonable price it might actually get some traction that it otherwise may not receive quite so quickly. That said it's a tough sell when you can get Primo Cache for like $30's.
There are USB enclosures that accept M.2 2280 drives like the Optane H and M variants that to go up to 64GB. So it would be possible to DIY one yourself.
As far as i know Intel is not selling Optane to third party vendors for use in their products so the chanches of seeing official Optane USB stick are slim to none.
Posted on Reply
#20
InVasMani
Tomorrow
There are USB enclosures that accept M.2 2280 drives like the Optane H and M variants that to go up to 64GB. So it would be possible to DIY one yourself.
As far as i know Intel is not selling Optane to third party vendors for use in their products so the chanches of seeing official Optane USB stick are slim to none.
True, but that sounds even more pricey and Optane already is pricey or rather 3D XPoint and at that point you may as well just use it as intended the traditional way for the OS itself. I really think PrimoCache is the thing to get if you want I/O speed regardless. If you want a OS drive stick to a SSD preferably a NVMe. HDD's are pretty much dead decent on price per gigabyte, but small cache coupled and restrained by a archaic interface that was never well suited to making use of that cache in the first place efficiently look no further than the Gigabyte I-Ram no matter how fast it is a poor interface will cripple it which is part of the issue with HDD's over the years and especially even more true today.
Posted on Reply
#21
watzupken
londiste
Consumer Optane drives at this point are too small or let down by controllers. Enterprise ones are OK but... enterprise, with prices to match. XPoint does have and awesome low queue depth performance which would be excellent for desktop.
I have a 2TB 660p as my games drive. The only time you feel the QLC is when drive is 95+% full. In any other case, it's a normal NVMe drive. As for other manufacturers, Crucial's P1 is there for consumer, ADATA has something as well, Samsung has the QVO line and Micron has 5210 ION drives for enterprise. This kind of makes sense with Flash manufacturers being at the forefront of this.

Layers by themselves apply to Flash itself and are not specific to xLC.
I think it is precisely what I mentioned about Optane/ 3D XPoint. Its too pricey, whether it is for retail or enterprise, relative to a good NVME drive. The low queue depth is indeed one of the benefits which I don't deny, however will it be a tangible benefit for most consumers is the question. There was a significant improvement in user experience moving from mechanical drive to a SSD, which is not something that you see moving from a good SSD to a Optane.

As for focus on QLC, those brands that you mentioned indeed have QLC drives. But not many of them are drumming up on QLC products like Intel. Even Samsung has gone quiet with the QVO series. Most of these QLC SSDs are silently ending up in prebuild computers and in laptops where the end users are generally not aware. I think the point is this, QLC certainly have its merits (mostly in terms of density), however I have not really seen it competitively priced against a decent TLC drive.
Posted on Reply
#22
efikkan
watzupken
I think it is precisely what I mentioned about Optane/ 3D XPoint. Its too pricey, whether it is for retail or enterprise, relative to a good NVME drive. The low queue depth is indeed one of the benefits which I don't deny, however will it be a tangible benefit for most consumers is the question. There was a significant improvement in user experience moving from mechanical drive to a SSD, which is not something that you see moving from a good SSD to a Optane.
I don't think "normal" usage will result in noticeable benefits to the user experience, especially considering the OS does caching in RAM which already hides some latency. But content creators with loads of data certainly will.

For me it's all about reliability, but I haven't pulled the trigger on 3D XPoint yet. Back when I considered it, it cost >1$ per GB, which I technically can afford, but tough since I'm not sure of my needs in capacity. So I went with 2x Intel 545s (TLC) in RAID 1 as a "temporary" solution.

But it all comes down to the importance of the storage. For work or other important stuff, I could justify a "small" 3D XPoint drive, and then HDDs for long-term storage and backup. For games, I would probably just go with a "cheap" TLC SSD (or two).
Posted on Reply
#23
lexluthermiester
efikkan
I don't like where this is heading. It's sad that in 2020, we are using more and more unreliable storage technologies.
I couldn't agree more!
Posted on Reply
#24
AnarchoPrimitiv
londiste
M10 is 64GB max...
Just use the 380gb 110mm long m.2....most boards support at least one 110mm m.2
Posted on Reply
#25
londiste
AnarchoPrimitiv
Just use the 380gb 110mm long m.2....most boards support at least one 110mm m.2
I am in my own little limited niche. I have been on mITX boards ever since these came out :)
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