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ADATA Releases the XPG SX950 SSD and EX500 Enclosure

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high performance DRAM modules, NAND Flash products, and mobile accessories today launched the XPG SX950 SSD and its accompanying gaming-styled EX500 drive enclosure. Loaded with up to 960GB of 3D MLC NAND and driven by a SMI controller, the SX950 utilizes a custom ADATA PCB and is backed by an extra-strict chip sorting process to ensure an SSD that can handle prolonged high demand. Performance reaches 560MB/s read and 530MB/s write. Bearing the signature XPG look, the EX500 is aimed at gamers and case modders, boasting a textured enclosure and a vibrant yet aggressive feel. It arrives with a spacer and bracket for easy install on desktops and notebooks. For users that would like to use the SX950 as external storage, the EX500 offers a stylish, durable, and easy-install enclosure that pairs instantly with desktops, notebooks, and game consoles via high speed USB 3.1.

ADATA is completing its transition to stacked memory, or 3D NAND. This allows for SSDs with bigger capacities without a correlating increase in prices paid by end users. The SX950 uses durable 3D MLC (multi-level cell) NAND Flash and SMI controller. Consumers can choose from 240GB, 480B, and 960GB versions of the SX950. Not only denser (higher capacity), 3D NAND is also roughly 10% faster than 2D NAND and so the SX950 outpaces its predecessor, the SX930 - reaching 560MB/s read and 530MB/s write.

Death By a Thousand Cuts: Toshiba to Sell Majority of its Semiconductor Business

Toshiba may not be dead in the water just yet, but news are dire for the company. After the company confirmed it was looking to spin-off its NAND production business so as to sell a minority, 20% stake for much-needed liquidity in the face of amounting debt and multiple management mistakes, reports now announce a much more aggressive stance from the company. It is now apparently looking to sell a majority stake (60%) on the spin-off, in the face of escalating costs and dwindling prospective chances.

WD Announces Pilot Production of World's First 64-Layer 512 Gb TLC NAND

Toshiba may be in the ropes for now, but WD, one of its foremost partners (mainly due to its SanDisk acquisition) and most interested party in Toshiba's NAND spin-off efforts, has just announced that it is world first in actually producing a 64-Layer 512 Gb TLC NAND die. WD is developing and producing this 64-layer NAND at its Yokkaichi, Japan fab which it operates alongside - you guessed it - Toshiba, under their joint Flash Forward venture, though there is no indication as to when the new dies will hit full production. The addition of the latest BiCS3 iteration indicates that, despite its recent challenges and snags, Toshiba continues to execute on its semiconductor roadmap, which is certain to be a boon in keeping the value of its NAND production capabilities in the face of the confirmed spin-off and sell-off of a 20% stake on its NAND production business.

There has been some difficulty in achieving any significant ramp-up in 3D NAND production over at the WD-Toshiba venture, with WD having announced a 256 Gb version of the same BiCS 3 technology it employs on the new 512 Gb die last year, to no considerable volume of production. That's one of the reasons for the current NAND shortage and price rises, among other factors, so let's hope all goes well in this ramp up. If all goes well, 1 TB SSD's with 512 Gb TLC NAND dies for $150?

Micron's Outlook for the Future of Memory: GDDR6, QuantX in 2017

After finally reaching mature yields (comparable to those of planar NAND processes), Micron's 32-layer first generation 3D NAND has grown increasingly prominent in the company's NAND output. Now, the company is looking to ramp-up production of their (currently sampling) 64-layer 3D NAND, promising "meaningful output" by the end of December 2017, looking for an 80% increase in total GB per wafer and a 30% decrease in production costs.

When it comes to the graphics subsystem memory, Micron is looking to transition their 20nm production to a "1x nm" (most likely 16nm) node, in a bid to improve cost per GB by around $20, with introduction of 16nm GDDR5 memory to be introduced later this year. However, GDDR5X volume is expected to grow significantly, in a bid to satisfy bandwidth-hungry uses through GPUs (like NVIDIA's GTX 1080 and potentially the upcoming 1080 Ti) and networking, with GDDR6 memory being introduced by the end of 2017 or early 2018. The company is still mum on actual consumer products based on their interpretation of the 3D XPoint products through their QuantX brand, though work is already under way on the second and third generation specifications of this memory, with Micron planning an hitherto unknown (in significance and product type) presence in the consumer market by the end of this year.

Mushkin Expands Its SSD Lineup with Helix: M.2 PCIe 4x, 3D MLC NAND, Up To 2 TB

Adding to their SSD lineup, Mushkin, which makes some really interesting, good price-performance ratio products has recently announced the upcoming availability of their Helix line of M.2 2280 SSDs. Based on Silicon Motion's SM2260 controller paired with 3D MLC NAND, Mushkin positions the Helix line as a premium, high-performance offering for desktops and laptops alike. Models will vary from a 250 GB entry-level offering thorugh a 2 TB high-end SKU, with the 2 TB version offering sequential read performance at up to 2.5 GB/s and write performance at up to 1.1 GB/s, when Silicon Motion's pseudo-SLC caching technology is used to its best effect.

Toshiba Confirms Spin Off of Its NAND Flash Production Business

After some reports pegged this event has likely and upcoming, Toshiba has now confirmed that they will be spinning off their NAND production business, whilst simultaneously parting with a 20% minority stake on the resulting business. This would inject Toshiba's coffers with enough liquidity to keep the company afloat, whilst letting them keep a hold of their most profitable business.

While details are still scarce (namely regarding the structuring of this spin off and who will be the investor to buy the reported 20% stake that Toshiba is willing to part with (with it most likely being Western Digital, as we've mentioned in our previous piece), the company has announced that they want to complete the transaction by the end of this quarter, March 31st.

Toshiba to Spin-off NAND Production; WD to be Main Beneficiary

In an AMD-like move to generate more short-term liquidity so as to strengthen its somewhat precarious position, Toshiba may be moving towards one of the most interesting shakeups in the NAND production field: a possible spin-off of its NAND production business into a separate company.

This move to restructure comes in the wake of recent snags and strategic mistakes for the company - such as the $1.2 billion dollar accounting "misstated" earnings, which created difficulties for the company to refinance itself in the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Also not negligible was a gross miscalculation on the amount of debt of the CB&I Stone and Webster company that Toshiba acquired so as to facilitate its U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric nuclear plant subsidiary investment. This "miscalculation", where Toshiba considered the "goodwill" booking charges at $87 million, where recently restated as a roughly-defined "several billion U.S. dollars."

SK Hynix to Construct a Cutting Edge NAND Flash FAB in Cheongju

SK Hynix Inc. announced it will construct a new memory semiconductor FAB in Cheongju, Chungcheongbuk-do to meet increasing NAND Flash demand. This is a part of a mid/long-term investment plan that SK Hynix declared at M14 completion ceremony in August 2015. At that time, the Company said it could spend 46 trillion won to set up 3 new FABs in Icheon and Cheongju including the M14.

The new FAB will be located in a Cheongju Technopolis site. SK Hynix starts a design within next month then begins construction of the shell and the cleanroom in August 2017 to be completed in June 2019 with total investment of 2.2 trillion won. Equipment installation into the FAB shall be decided considering market conditions as well as the Company's migration plans.

Silicon Power Announces High-endurance SD Cards

SP/ Silicon Power, a leading provider of memory storage solutions, launches its new High Endurance microSDHC/microSDXC cards especially designed for car video recorders, security cameras and surveillance systems. These write-intensive applications crucially depend on the highest level of reliability to provide trustworthy proof in the most decisive moments. Equipped with high-quality MLC NAND flash chips, SP's new high Endurance micro SDHC/microSDXC card meets this special requirement by achieving up to 12,000 hours of 64 GB Full HD video recording.

Additional key features for reliable and speedy performance are the card's built- in error correction code (ECC) function technology for high data transmission safety and full support of Ultra High Speed Class 3 (U3) specification.

Micron Technology Announces World's Highest-Capacity Enterprise SATA SSD

Micron Technology, Inc. today introduced the Micron Enterprise 5100 Series SATA solid state drive (SSD) family, enabling future-focused data storage platforms to meet the combined demands of performance, capacity and enterprise-class reliability. Micron's 5100 Series Enterprise SATA SSDs provide IT with an easy migration to bridge the infrastructure divide to tomorrow's all flash data center. With an industry-leading 8-terabyte (TB) capacity, the 5100 Series helps you manage the data deluge created by today's diverse digital universe with performance characteristics perfectly tailored to manage the data tsunami.

"Micron is uniquely positioned to help IT embrace modernization and agility, and leading enterprise and cloud data centers look to Micron for breadth and depth in solid state storage solutions to tame a diverse digital universe," Darren Thomas, vice president of storage at Micron. "Our Micron 5100 Series SATA SSDs featuring FlexPro architecture offer a seamless migration path with enterprise class reliability and proven ROI, ensuring flexibility, continuity and agility for data management today and tomorrow."

SSD Pricing to Surge on the Back of NAND Shortages - Stock Your SSD Needs

Business. Business never changes. Whether you're for Keynes or Hayek, some truths just can't be escaped: and the one based on the market tending to equilibrium between the forces of supply and demand is oft times almost akin to a law of physics - other times, not so much. This time, it appears as if the market forces are steering NAND prices through the roof. The causes? Varied, though you probably carry one of them in your pocket most of the time. We earlier reported surging prices in the DRAM market, spurred by the Note 7 fiasco and increased production of that smartphone's competitors (and Samsung's own products) to fill the gaping hole left by its forcible market removal. But not only by DRAM are smartphones powered - they also make use of NAND flash.

Plextor Announces the EX 1 External SSD Drive

The specialist for high-performance digital memory technology and Solid State Drive products (SSD), Plextor, presents its new generation of ultra-light, small form factor, high-speed external SSD with OTG support and only 30g in weight: the Plextor EX1. The Plextor EX1 specifications are designed for high speeds, with the USB Type-C interface supporting USB 3.1 Gen2 standard, and delivering a 10x higher speed compared to the USB 2.0 interface, delivering continuous read/write speeds of 550 and 500 MB/s respectively.

The strength of the EX1 series is based on the core components used, including high-quality TLC NAND flash memory manufactured using Hynix's 16nm process, as well as the latest generation of controller ICs from SMI. Plextor has also developed an advanced firmware, and includes the PlexNitro application for increased user control. The Plextor EX1 will be available in stores from the end of November in three different storage capacities with 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. The EX1 complies with Plextor's stringent quality requirements, including a 3-year warrant. Pricing will be announced at a later date.

Toshiba Announces New-Generation Supreme+ eMMC Flash Storage

Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. (TAEC) has enhanced its lineup of managed NAND devices with the addition of new Embedded Multimedia Card (e-MMC) and Universal Flash Storage (UFS) embedded memory solutions. Featuring enhanced integrated controller technologies, the new 'Supreme+' e-MMC (JEDEC ver. 5.1) and UFS (JEDEC ver. 2.1) offerings deliver significant read and write speed improvements to demanding applications.

In contrast to raw NAND flash memory solutions, e-MMC and UFS devices integrate NAND flash memory and a controller chip in a single package. This saves space and relieves host processors of the burden of key memory management functions including bad block management, error correction, wear leveling, and garbage collection. As a result, e-MMC and UFS devices simplify design when compared to standalone memory ICs with a standard NAND flash interface.

Seagate Introduces the 5th Gen FireCuda SSHDs - Up to 2 TB, 8Gb NAND

Seagate has officially updated their FireCuda line, the solid-state supported, high-capacity hybrid drives. The new, 5th Gen models sport a thinner form-factor (2.5"), rocking the company's multi-tier cache technology as well as 1 TB SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) plates. The SMR plate's difference compared to conventional, perpendicular recording HDD technology allows these hybrid drives to increase storage density by up to 25%, by allowing newly-written magnetic tracks to partly overlap previously-written ones, reducing the amount of platter real-estate occupied.

The caveat with this technology is that the overlapping-tracks architecture may slow down the writing process, since writing to one track overwrites adjacent tracks, and requires them to be rewritten as well. However, according to Seagate, the large, multi-tier cache technology and large NAND caches are enough to offset any performance loss incurred by the SMR technology employed on these drives, and then some.

Intel 8000p - The First Consumer-Grade 3D Xpoint Products

The Intel-Micron joint collaboration in the development of what is promised to be the next step in storage technology is inching ever closer to reality. According to Bench Life, which published a leaked specifications list for the upcoming Intel Optane Memory products, the first application for consumer-grade 3D XPoint technology straddles the line between an SSD and system RAM. Intel calls it a "System Accelerator" solution, and it's meant to operate as an intermediate caching solution between a system's RAM and storage. Codenamed "Stony Beach", Intel's 8000p (and entire 3D XPoint-based products) support is still up in the air, but it's expected that only Kaby Lake and subsequent platforms will be compatible with the technology - which, if true, is sure to limit the product's market penetration.

The consumer products will initially sport capacities of either 16GB or 32GB, leveraging the NVMe protocol at PCIe Gen 3.0 x2 bandwidth in the M.2 form-factor. Mirroring NAND technology, the greater capacity solution will sport the highest performance: with the 16GB part coming in at 1400 MB/s read and 300 MB/s write speeds, against the 32 GB's 1600 MB/s and 400 MB/s, respectively. We see similar results in regards to IOPS, with the 16GB solution offering up to 285,000 read and 70,000 write operations per second, against the 32 GB's solution respective 300,000 read and 120,000 write. As usual with new technologies, expect all these metrics to only go up in time.

Samsung Announces the 960 Pro and 960 EVO Series M.2 NVMe SSDs

Samsung Electronics America, Inc., a worldwide leader in advanced memory solutions for more than two decades, today unveiled the Samsung 960 PRO and 960 EVO, its newest solid state drives (SSDs). The V-NAND based, M.2 form factor SSDs were built on the company's category-defining Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) SSD leadership. With powerful performance, endurance and capacity topped with all new and more robust Samsung Magician software package, Samsung continues to accelerate the NVMe era.

Packed with more technology and innovation than ever, the 960 PRO and 960 EVO are designed for users who seek smaller and faster storage solutions that deliver higher bandwidth and lower latency for processing massive amounts of data for everything from gaming and large file transfers to 4K video rendering, data analytics and more on their ultra-thin notebooks and PCs.

Marvell Introduces the 88NV1160 DRAM-less SSD Controller

Marvell, a world leader in storage, cloud infrastructure, Internet of Things (IoT), connectivity and multimedia semiconductor solutions, today announced the expansion of its solid-state drive (SSD) portfolio to include the 88NV1160 Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) Express DRAM-less SSD controller. Marvell's 88NV1160 DRAM-less SSD controller provides the industry's leading performance per Watt and up to 1600MB/s read speeds. The 88NV1160 can be used in a single ball grid array (BGA) package SSD, as well as in a standalone controller in a tiny 9x10mm package which makes it compatible with M.2230 and M.2242 form factors. These features make the 88NV1160 optimized for a new generation of slim computing devices such as productivity tablets and ultrabooks. The new controller is currently available for sampling to key customers globally.

"As the world's leading storage controller provider, Marvell has a long track record of bringing to market world-class innovations, including the pioneering integration of Host Memory Buffer technology into DRAM-less products. Working closely with other ecosystem leaders, Marvell has continued to advance the industry and drive a new generation of low power, small form factor mobile computing systems," said Dr. David Chen, Vice President of SSD Business at Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. "The 88NV1160 controller is optimally engineered for high performance tablets and ultrabooks, providing unparalleled performance per Watt and the largest NAND compatibility on the market."

Toshiba Announces New BG SSDs with 3-Bit-Per-Cell (TLC) BiCS Flash

Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. (TAEC), a committed technology leader, will showcase its new BG series solid state drive (SSD) family featuring cutting-edge BiCS FLASH with 3-bit-per-cell TLC (triple-level cell) technology and Toshiba's new single-package ball grid array (BGA) NVMe PCI Express (PCIe) Gen3 x2 SSD at the 2016 Flash Memory Summit held in Santa Clara, California between August 8 - 11. Delivering a smaller footprint, lower power consumption and better performance than traditional storage options, the BG SSD series is purpose-built for the future wave of ultra-thin mobile PCs, including 2-in-1 convertible notebooks and tablets.

With a surface area 95 percent smaller than conventional 2.5-inch SATA storage devices and 82 percent smaller than M.2 Type 22806, the Toshiba BG series condenses both the controller and NAND flash memory in a single 16 mm x 20 mm BGA package enabling device manufacturers to prioritize features like battery capacity for longer operating times. The BG series is also available mounted on a M.2 Type 22307 module for applications requiring socketed storage. BG SSDs utilize BiCS FLASH, a three-dimensional (3D) stacked cell structure, making it possible to accommodate up to 512 GB of storage capacity in this high-performance and compact form factor. Additionally, the BG series SSDs utilize an in-house Toshiba-developed controller and firmware for a full, vertically developed solution, ensuring technology is tightly integrated for optimal performance, power consumption and reliability.

Western Digital Announces World's First 64-Layer 3D NAND Technology

Western Digital Corp. today announced that it has successfully developed its next generation 3D NAND technology, BiCS3, with 64 layers of vertical storage capability. Pilot production of the new technology has commenced in the Yokkaichi, Japan joint venture facilities and initial output is expected later this year. Western Digital expects meaningful commercial volumes of BiCS3 in the first half of calendar 2017.

"The launch of the next generation 3D NAND technology based on our industry-leading 64 layer architecture reinforces our leadership in NAND flash technology," said Dr. Siva Sivaram, executive vice president, memory technology, Western Digital. "BiCS3 will feature the use of 3-bits-per-cell technology along with advances in high aspect ratio semiconductor processing to deliver higher capacity, superior performance and reliability at an attractive cost. Together with BiCS2, our 3D NAND portfolio has broadened significantly, enhancing our ability to address a full spectrum of customer applications in retail, mobile and data center."

Toshiba and Western Digital Celebrate the Opening of New Fab 2 in Japan

Toshiba Corporation and Western Digital Corporation today celebrated the opening of the New Fab 2 semiconductor fabrication facility located in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Expanded use of flash memory in smartphones, SSDs, and other applications is driving continued growth of the global flash memory market. The New Fab 2 facility will support the conversion of the companies' 2D NAND capacity to 3D flash memory, allowing realization of solutions offering higher densities and better device performance.

Construction of New Fab 2 began in September 2014. Following partial completion of the facility in October 2015, Toshiba and SanDisk (acquired in May 2016 by Western Digital Technologies Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Digital Corporation) worked together to implement leading-edge manufacturing capabilities for mass production of 3D flash memory, and first-phase production started in March of this year. The parties intend to further invest to expand production capacity over time, depending on market conditions.

Micron Introduces Industry's Best-in-Class SLC NAND Flash for IoT and Automotive

Micron Technology, Inc., today announced its newest embedded SLC NAND Flash optimized for the next generation of Internet of Things (IoT) and automotive applications. Available with differing interfaces to accommodate design, Micron's second generation Serial (SPI) NAND and fifth generation parallel SLC NAND, offers the industry's best-in-class reliability1 and read and program performance, ease of design and advanced security features.

Gartner projects that the IoT endpoint hardware and services market will rise to a $3.5 trillion industry by 20202. As system designers seek embedded solutions to power the performance for the connected home, wearables and the connected car, the technical demands have raised the bar for the security and seamlessness for ingredient semiconductor suppliers. Micron's newest SLC NAND addresses these needs for high-performance storage technology to propel the market forward.

"Micron works closely with chipset partners and customers within the ecosystem to design tomorrow's products that meet the complex NAND requirements fueled by IoT and automotive," said Aravind Ramamoorthy, product line director of NAND flash for Micron's Embedded Business Unit. "The new SLC NAND Flash technology enable a new category of embedded applications that need reliable, high-performance, low pin count and secure4 memory for code and low density data storage."

Maxiotek New SSD Controllers Detailed

A new entrant to the client SSD space, Maxiotek showed off its first controllers for SATA client drives. The first two controllers launched include the Maxiotek MK8113, designed for drives with DRAM caches, and the MK8115, designed for cost-effective DRAM-less NAND flash drives. The MK8113 support 2D and 3D (stacked) MLC, and 2D SLC NAND flash, with capacities of up to 2 TB. The MK8115, on the other hand, supports 3D (stacked) TLC NAND flash in addition to 2D SLC, 2D and 3D MLC, with capacities of up to 1 TB. Both controllers support the latest native encryption standards, including 256-bit AES, SM4, SED, and TCG-OPAL. Exclusive features include AgileECC (an efficient ECC method), WriteBooster (garbage collection and TRIM), Frequency Throttling (power management), and VPR (virtual parity recovery). ADATA is one of the launch partners, and already has an MK8115-based drive.

OCZ Shows Off VT180 and TR150 2.5-inch SATA SSDs

OCZ is refining its popular consumer SSD brands to reach out to more buyers. As part of the integration with Toshiba, they rebranded their consumer SSD lines, to VT180, and the TR150, which more closely aligns with Toshiba's SSD model naming. Besides the naming, both drives are identical to the Vector 180 and Trion 150. The VT180 comes in capacities ranging from 120 GB to 960 GB, and is powered by Toshiba-made MLC NAND flash. These drives offer sequential transfer rates of up to 550 MB/s reads, with up to 530 MB/s writes, and 96,000 IOPS 4K random reads, with 90,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The TR150, on the other hand, runs TLC NAND flash memory, and although its maximum sequential speeds are rated the same as the VT180 series, their 4K random access numbers are different - 87,000 IOPS reads, and 83,000 IOPS writes.

Samsung Announces SSD 750 EVO 500GB

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., an expert provider of advanced memory solutions for more than three decades, today announced worldwide availability of the 750 EVO solid state drive (SSD) in 120GB, 250GB and an all new 500GB capacity. The 750 EVO SSDs provide mainstream consumers and PC builders with an efficient migration path from hard disk drives (HDDs) or slow performing entry-level SSDs to a faster and more reliable storage solution for every day computer use.

"Samsung is committed to constantly evolving and providing high-quality memory solutions that fit general consumer needs," said Un-Soo Kim, Senior Vice President of Branded Product Marketing, Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. "We have seen high consumer demand for our 750 EVO in the 120GB and 250GB capacities, which have been available in select emerging markets since last year. We want to meet the consumers' expectation who seek a reliable memory solution to extend the longevity of their existing computers in an easy and effective way. By adding the 500GB version to the current 750 EVO line-up and supplying the drives to more regions, consumers who need high data consumption will be better served."

Transcend Announces Industrial-grade SuperMLC microSD Cards

Transcend Information, Inc., a leading manufacturer of industrial-grade flash and DRAM products, is proud to announce the release of its industrial-grade SuperMLC microSD cards. Positioned between its SLC and MLC NAND flash offerings, Transcend's exclusive SuperMLC technology features a cost-effective solution that offers performance close to that of SLC NAND flash. The newly-released SuperMLC microSD cards boast high-performance, exceptional endurance, and wide temperature tolerance (-40°C to 85°C) at affordable prices, ideal for industrial applications such as medical devices, surveillance systems, and POS terminals.

Combining the benefits of both Single-Level Cell (SLC) and Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND flash, Transcend has successfully developed SuperMLC technology by reprogramming the two bits per cell of MLC into one bit per cell, greatly boosting its performance. The transfer speed of Transcend's new UHS-I Class 1 SuperMLC microSD cards can reach up to 95MB/s, double the speed of MLC flash chips. Although total capacity is reduced, SuperMLC offers a good balance for industrial applications that demand quality that is comparable to SLC NAND flash at a cost-effective price.
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