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TrendForce: Contract Prices of NAND Flash Products to Drop Further 10% just in 1Q19

According to a report from DRAMeXchange, a division of market analytics firm TrendForce, contractor pricing of NAND flash products could drop some further 10% entering 2019 and throughout just the first quarter of the next year. Citing higher than expected but output from NAND manufacturers, who managed to ramp up their 64-bit 3D NAND ad higher-than-expected ratios, and with stagnating smartphone demand, channel quantities' increase will lead to dripping (if not cascading) pricing.

As for the trend in the SSD market, DRAMeXchange expects Client SSD contract prices to fall by nearly 10% in 1Q19, a great boon for customers. With global notebook shipments for 1Q19 estimated to decrease by over 15% QoQ, slowing demand for SSDs will lead to decreasing prices matching demand, despite the increasing SSD adoption rate in the PC market and the memory content upgrades. Long story short, enthusiasts: don't do any Christmas shopping for SSDs, barring some amazing deals that do pop up.

Greenliant Industrial SSDs Reach Ultra-High Endurance of 250,000 PE Cycles

Greenliant has introduced a new class of ultra-high endurance solid state drives (SSDs) that can reach up to 250,000 program/erase (P/E) cycles. These 1-bit-per-cell (SLC) SSDs are part of Greenliant's new EnduroSLC product line, which offers various endurance specifications-50K, 100K and 250K P/E cycles-for demanding industrial applications.

NANDrive SSDs, enabled by Greenliant's EnduroSLC Technology, now provide embedded systems designers with more options when choosing data storage products for long life applications. Using advanced NAND flash management algorithms and hardware error correction code (ECC) capabilities, Greenliant can significantly increase the life of its high reliability NANDrive SSDs for customers requiring superior endurance and data retention for extended periods of time.

SSDs Are Cheaper Than Ever, Hit the Magic 10 Cents Per Gigabyte Threshold

It may be quite difficult to find bargains when it comes to DDR4 system memory or high-end graphics cards these days, but at least SSDs are more affordable now to help bandage that wound. This price drop of solid state storage has been happening throughout this year, and some units have reached a cost of 10 cents per gigabyte, a milestone difficult to have imagined a couple of years ago. The 2 TB variant of the Crucial MX500 SSD, for example, can be found now at $209, and those interested may want to check out our review of the 1 TB version before committing to a purchase.

This is great news already, but there is even better news coming as that cost will reportedly continue to drop. NAND flash could drop to $0.08 per gigabyte in 2019 according to some analysts, and some alternatives such as QLC drives from Samsung could push that trend even further. The traditional HDD market is also getting more inexpensive and better bang-for-your-buck, with a 2017 report from BackBlaze showed for example how cost per gigabyte was approaching $0.02 per gigabyte a year ago on some units. As always, price prediction reports tend to come out with the US market as a case study, but our own global TechPowerUp team is appreciating having more SSDs on deck for files and programs alike.

Micron 5210 ION SSD Now Generally Available

Micron Technology, Inc., today announced the next step towards market leadership for its quad-level cell (QLC) NAND technology with immediate broad market availability of the popular Micron 5210 ION enterprise SATA SSD, the world's first QLC SSD, which began shipping to select customers and partners in May of this year. Available through global distributors, the Micron 5210 ION enterprise SATA SSD further accelerates Micron's lead in the QLC market, enabling replacement of hard disk drives (HDDs) with SSDs and building on Micron's recent launch of the Crucial P1 NVMe QLC SSD for consumer markets.

Enterprise storage needs are increasing as data center applications deliver real-time user insights and intelligent and enhanced user experiences, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, big data and real-time analytics. At the same time, there is a growing consumer need for higher storage capacity to support digital experiences. QLC SSDs are uniquely designed to address these requirements.

SSD the Next Frontier for Cybersecurity: Vulnerabilities Found with Native Encryption

Compared to hard disk drives, the logic that makes solid-state drives (SSDs) tick is far more complex, involving a far more powerful SoC, complete with native storage, and sophisticated firmware that tells the controller where each bit of user data is physically stored across an array of NAND flash chips. Not surprisingly, the more sophisticated you make your SSD firmware, the more security vulnerabilities you leave, as cyber-security researchers at The Radboud University found out.

A research paper draft published by Carlo Meijer and Bernard van Gastel tells us that hardware data encryption technologies built into modern SSDs are easy to bypass and recover protected data, rendering technologies such as TCG Opal useless. Most modern SSDs offer native data encryption, which encrypts data using popular methods such as AES, without posing an overhead for the host machine. "We found that many hardware implementations [of native encryption] have critical security weaknesses, for many models allowing for complete recovery of the data without knowledge of any secret."

SK Hynix Launches World's First 'CTF-based 4D NAND Flash' (96-Layer 512Gb TLC)

SK Hynix today launched the world's first 96-Layer 512Gb CTF (Charge Trap Flash) based 4D NAND flash. Don't let the name trick you - it's still based on 3D TLC technology, but SK Hynix has gone and added a 4th dimension due to its pairing of charge trap flash technology in conjunction with PUC (Peri. Under Cell technology.

SK Hynix says that their approach is (obviously) better than the industry-wide 3D Floating Gate approach. The 4D NAND chip design results in a reduction of more than 30% in chip size, and increases bit productivity per wafer by 49% compared to the Company's 72-Layer 512Gb 3D NAND. Moreover, the product has 30% higher write and 25% higher read performance. Also, its data bandwidth is doubled to an industry-leading (in size) 64KB. Data I/O (Input Output) speed reaches 1,200Mbps (Megabits/sec) at 1.2 V.

Samsung Cuts CAPEX by a Quarter, Calls it an "End of the Chip Boom"

Samsung Electronics Wednesday slashed its capital expenditure (capex) by a quarter, which could significantly reduce its NAND flash chip output, and raise NAND flash prices back to profitability for the company, although not anytime soon. This could herald a rise in SSD prices around this time next year, although they partly contradict analyses that predict further slides in NAND flash prices through 2019, as the advent of 96-layer 3D QLC NAND flash by every major player would add to swelling inventories in the market. If you'll recall, Samsung reportedly desires DRAM prices to remain high and establish current high DRAM prices as a new normal. The company went as far as to further reduce its DRAM output, just so supplies of DRAM in the market remain low. The company remarked that acceleration in NAND flash price-drops signifies an end of the "boom" in NAND flash chip demand that fueled growth over the past two years, as justification to its capex cuts.

ASUS Z390 Motherboards Automatically Push Software into Your Windows Installation

During testing for our Intel Core i9-9900K review we found out that new ASUS Z390 motherboards automatically install software and drivers to your Windows 10 System, without the need for network access, and without any user knowledge or confirmation. This process happens in complete network-isolation (i.e. the machine has no Internet or LAN access). Our Windows 10 image is based on Windows 10 April 2018 Update and lacks in-built drivers for the integrated network controllers.

Upon first boot, with the machine having no LAN or Internet connectivity, we were greeted by an ASUS-specific window in the bottom right corner of our screen, asking whether we'd like to install the network drivers and download "Armoury Crate". This got us curious and we scanned the system for any files that aren't part of the standard MS Windows installation. We discovered three ASUS-signed files in our Windows 10 System32 folder, which, so it seems, magically appeared on our harddrive out of thin air. Upon further investigation we also found a new, already running, system service called "AsusUpdateCheck."

MyDigitalSSD Drops Pricing for Recently-Released BPX Pro M.2 NVMe SSDs by up to 25%

MyDigitalSSD must have began rethinking their BPX Pro SSD lineup's pricing as soon as they entered the market. A mere three weeks later, the company has announced an up to 25% price cut on its lineup, ranging from your choice of 240 GB ($99.99 originally, now $74.99), 480 GB ($149.99 originally, now $129.99), 960 GB ($279.99 originally, now $259.99) and 1920 GB ($599.99 originally, will be available later at $569.99) capacities.

As a reminder, the MyDigitalSSD BPX (Bullet Proof eXpress) Pro NVMe SSDs leverage the PCIe 3.1 x4 complex in the M.2 SSD form-factor to deliver staggering (up to) sequential read and write speeds of 3,400MB/s and 3,100MB/s, respectively - with not too shabby 4K random performance. These speeds are achieved using Phison's new E12 controller paired with Toshiba-made BiCS3 TLC NAND flash, one of the industry's strongest NAND options. With these price-cuts, they've become one of the cheapest options in the market, and are likely vying for the price/performance crown.

ADATA Announces IUSP33F PCIe BGA SSD

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high-performance DRAM modules and NAND flash products, today launched the ADATA IUSP33F PCIe ball grid array (BGA) solid state drive (SSD). The SSD sports a form factor that is 80 percent more compact than M.2 2242 SSDs. Combined with a PCIe Gen3x2 interface and 3D Flash memory for excellent performance and durability, the IUSP33F is an ideal solution for slim-form-factor tablets, notebooks, hybrids, mini-PCs, thin clients, and wearables.

"We are thrilled to be introducing the new IUSP33F SSD, a compact solution that will enable next-generation tablets, ultrabooks, and other slim devices, but without compromising on performance and reliability," said Hedi Huang, Sales Directorof ADATA. "But the versatility of the IUSP33F goes beyond just these applications, and are also well-suited for new emerging applications in areas such as robotics, augmented and virtual reality, and automotive.

NAND Flash Prices Could Reach $0.08/GB in 2019

Prices of NAND flash could drop to historic lows of $0.08 per gigabyte in 2019, according to Jim Handy from Objective Analysis, addressing delegates at the 2018 Flash Memory Summit. If you add the cost of the controller, optional DRAM chip, and other low-cost parts that make up an SSD, 480~512 GB drives under $70 could finally be a reality; followed by 1 TB under $120, and 2 TB under $200. Handy attributes the low prices to a catastrophic oversupply of NAND flash in the industry, which could push manufacturers to the brink of economic collapse.

The price drop is also accelerated with the introduction of the QLC (4 bits per cell) technology, which increases densities (and conversely decreases price/GB). Luckily, most NAND flash manufacturers also happen to make DRAM, and are offsetting some of their NAND flash losses with DRAM profits, as DRAM remains in undersupply. The NAND flash price-crash threatens to wipe out conventional hard-disk drives from the consumer-space, at least in matured markets; relegating them to developing markets.

ADATA SU800 Series SATA SSDs Gets a 2TB Variant

ADATA Ultimate SU800 launched mid-2016 to compete with performance-segment SATA SSDs of the time, such as the 850 EVO. It was one of the first drives in its segment to implement 3D TLC NAND flash, and came in capacities ranging between 128 GB to 1 TB. Two years later, ADATA augmented this series with a new 2 TB variant to go after the crowd that wants to take advantage of low NAND flash prices to grab a high capacity SATA SSD to use as a game library drive.

The new 2 TB variant (ASU800SS-2TT-C), continues to be based on the Silicon Motion SM2258G controller, cushioned by a DRAM cache, and uses Micron-made 3D TLC NAND flash. It uses up to 8 percent of its TLC NAND flash as SLC cache. The drive offers sequential transfer rates of up to 560 MB/s, with up to 520 MB/s sequential writes, and endurance of up to 1,600 TBW. LDPC (low density parity check code) and in-built DVESLP mode support make up its feature-set. Backed by a 3-year warranty, the drive is expected to be priced around $379.

SK Hynix Unveils 4D NAND Flash Memory Concept

3D NAND flash revolutionized flash storage as it used the third dimension (height) to stack multiple NAND flash layers, resulting in infinitesimally smaller footprint and reduced costs. SK Hynix believes that a "4-dimensional" NAND flash package is possible. Don't worry, such a stack doesn't look like a tesseract. Conventional 3D NAND flash relies on stacks of charge-trap flash (CTF) cells spatially located alongside its periphery block (which is responsible for wiring out each of the layers of the CTF stack). On a 2-D plane you'd be spending substrate real-estate on both the CTF and periphery block.

SK Hynix believes that the periphery block can be stacked along with the CTF stack, with microscopic vias wiring up the stack along the periphery, reducing the footprint of each cell stack. 4D stacking will also allow for greater number of CTF stacks per cell. Just to be clear, we're talking about stacks of cell and not stacks of NAND flash dies. The V5 cell-stack in SK Hynix's design entails 4 cells and periphery blocks sandwiched. The first implementation of this technology is a 96-layer 4D NAND flash chip with 512 Gb of capacity and TLC (3 bits per cell) density, although the technology is ready for QLC cells. This 512 Gb chip will begin sampling by the end of 2018, and the company is already working on a 1 Tb chip for 2019.

QLC NAND Flash Based Intel SSD 660p Could Lower Prices of PCIe x4 NVMe SSDs

Intel debuted its 3D QLC NAND flash memory on new SSD DC series 2.5-inch U.2 PCIe drives. Its technology partner Micron, too gave its 3D QLC an enterprise debut with the 5120 ION. The first client-segment debut from the IMFlash combine could be the Intel SSD 660p series of M.2 NVMe SSDs. Slotted between the 700p and the 600p, the new 660p implements homebrew 64-layer QLC NAND flash memory, and a new controller. It comes in sizes of 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB.

The best part about the 660p is its performance numbers. The drive takes advantage of PCI-Express 3.0 x4, and offers (at least on paper), performance numbers identical to those of the pricier 700p. The drives read at speeds of up to 1800 MB/s, with up to 1100 MB/s writes. The 600p, in comparison, capped out at 560 MB/s sequential writes, while the 700p is only slightly higher, at 1200 MB/s. Random access speeds are up to 150,000 IOPS (both reads and writes). QLC pays off rich dividends to consumers by way of price/GB. The 660p 512 GB is expected to be priced at 113.90€ (0.22€/GB), the 1 TB variant at 197.75€ (0.20€/GB), and the 2 TB variant at 391.43€ (0.20€/GB). Not bad for launch prices, considering these are PCIe NVMe drives priced competitively with SATA SSDs.

Intel Starts Producing 3D QLC NAND Flash Based PCIe SSDs for Data-Centers

Intel announced that it started mass-production of PCI-Express SSDs for data-centers that implement the latest-generation 3D QLC NAND flash memory. The new QLC (4 bits per cell) NAND flash memory enables 33% increases in densities over TLC NAND flash, and with 3D (stacks), the density per chip is further multiplied. Built in the 15 mm-thick 2.5-inch form-factor with U.2 interface, the drive is built for the rigors of "warm storage" (data that isn't hot, but isn't cold/archival, either). Such drives can be slower than "hot data" drives based on faster MLC or even SLC NAND flash, but almost always up; and faster than HDDs. The first 3D QLC NAND-based SSD, which probably uses the same chips as this drive, is the Micron 5210 ION, which was launched in May.

Intel "Cascade Lake" Xeon Scalable Chips to Support 3.84 TB of RAM per Socket

Intel is giving finishing touches to a new wave of Xeon Scalable processors based on its new "Cascade Lake" silicon. One of its first parts is a 28-core chip with a 6-channel DDR4 memory interface, support for 3 DIMMs per channel, resulting in 18 DIMM slots per socket. Its integrated memory controllers support a theoretical maximum of 3.84 TB of memory. The best part? The memory needn't be DRAM-based.

With its next-generation of enterprise processors, Intel is introducing support for Optane Persistent Memory. This 3D X-point based memory module has a performance footprint between NAND flash SSDs and volatile DRAM; while being close enough to the latter to work as primary memory. Its USP is persistence - the ability to not lose data after power loss or reboot; allowing large data centers to quickly power down/up nodes in response to load, without wasting several dozen minutes in repopulating DRAM with data from a hibernation image. Optane Persistent DIMMs come in capacities of up to 512 GB. This is simply 512 GB of 3D X-point memory wired to a special on-DIMM controller that interfaces with standardized DDR4 interface.

Micron Technology Faces Ban in China After Losing IP Spat to UMC

Stocks of Micron Technology tanked on Tuesday as reports emerged of the company being banned in China, the world's largest semiconductor market. A Chinese court ruled in favor of Taiwanese semiconductor foundry UMC in its patent infringement lawsuit against Micron. The Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court issued a preliminary injunction stopping the sale of 26 Micron products, spanning across both its DRAM and NAND flash product lines, UMC said in a statement.

Micron, meanwhile, maintains that it hasn't read the injunction order yet, and that it won't comment until it does. Micron's position is doing precious little in stopping its hemorrhage at the markets, as its stock prices fell 8 percent at the time of this writing. The Micron-UMC spat is fascinating in a broader geopolitical context. Micron accuses UMC of serving as a conduit for funneling away its IP to midwife Chinese DRAM companies such as Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. It is the counter-suit to this by UMC, which was won today. China accounted to more than 50 percent of Micron's revenues in FY 2017, with most of the chips being mopped up by the consumer electronics and PC manufacturing industries.

ADATA Intros SR2000CP PCI-Express 3.0 x8 AIC SSD

ADATA introduced the SR2000CP a new enterprise SSD for when you absolutely, positively, need to push data at 6 gigabytes per second. Built in the half-height add-on card form-factor with PCI-Express 3.0 x8 interface, the drive ships in capacities of 2 TB, 3.5 TB, 4 TB, 8 TB, and 11 TB. The drives use 3D "eTLC" NAND flash. This type of memory has the 3 bits per cell characteristics of TLC, but endurance (P/E cycles) comparable to MLC NAND flash, which lends it endurance of 1~3 DWPD under a 5-year warranty.

The 4 TB variant tested by ADATA, churns out some impressive performance numbers - up to 1 million IOPS 4K random reads, up to 150,000 IOPS 4K random writes; and sequential transfer speeds of up to 6 GB/s reads, with up to 3.8 GB/s writes. You also get enterprise essentials such as user-configurable overprovisioning, power-loss protection, native 256-bit AES encryption, and up to protection against 95% relative humidity and 55°C ambient temperature (Google's datacenters). The company didn't reveal pricing as the drives could be served up to enterprise customers.

ADATA XPG SX7100 Price-performance Sweetspot SSD Detailed

ADATA exhibited two new M.2 NVMe SSD with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface, the XPG SX7100 and the SX8200. The SX7100 is positioned a notch above PCIe 3.0 x2 drives, such as the SX6000 series, and could be priced close to those drives. This drive succeeds the XPG SX7000 from last year. It combines 2nd generation (10 nm-class) 3D TLC NAND flash memory with Realtek RTS5760 controller, which supports NVMe 1.3 and HMB.

The drive comes in a variety of capacities ranging from 120 GB all the way up to 1920 GB, with 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB along the way. It offers sequential transfer rates of up to 2100 MB/s reads, with up to 1500 MB/s writes; both of which are a significant step up from the 1800/850 MB/s reads/writes of the SX7000. ADATA didn't reveal when it plans to launch SX7100, but that when it does, it will strike a price-performance sweet-spot that could drive buyers away from both PCIe x2 and pricey PCIe x4 options.

Silicon Power Intros AIC3C0P Industrial NVMe SSD

Silicon Power introduced the AIC3C0P, an industrial-grade PCI-Express NVMe SSD in the half-height add-in card form-factor, with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface. Available in capacities of 800 GB, 1.6 TB, and 3.2 TB, the drive features MLC NAND flash. It offers sequential transfer rates of up to 3200 MB/s reads, with up to 1850 MB/s writes, and 4K random access speeds of up to 750,000 IOPS reads, and up to 380,000 IOPS writes. Also on offer is power-loss protection, and native 256-bit AES data encryption. The company didn't reveal pricing.

ADATA Announces New Industrial-Grade, 3D TLC NAND SSDs

ADATA today launched the industrial-grade ADATA IM2P33F8 PCIe Gen3 x4 and IM2S3168 SATA 6 Gbps M.2 2280 solid state drives. Both drives employ durable and long-lasting 3D NAND flash, making them ideal upgrade options for a wide range of systems and installations.

The Adata IM2 series have 3D TLC NAND flash memory, end-to-end data protection, and variable capacities. The IM2P33F8 features a PCIe 3.0 controller with support for NVMe 1.3 and has three capacities (128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB), rated for up to 2,050 MB/s and 1,600 MB/s for sequential read and write speeds, respectively. The IM2S3168 SSD, on the other hand, has a SATA 6 GB/s controller which offers up to 540 MB/s and 510 MB/s in sequential read and write performance, respectively. The capacities of the SATA-based SSD are also more varied, offering 32 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB drives.

TDK Announces SNS1B M.2 and Embedded SSDs

TDK Corporation announces the sequential launch of the embedded SD ESRD4 series, the embedded SSD ESS1B series and the M.2 SSD Type 2280-D5-B-M SNS1B series. With the progress of IoT, the demand for micro storage for edge data is rapidly expanding. In particular, eMMC, which can be mounted on a surface, was expected to be potent, but the trend is shifting from eMMC to UFS, which is associated with the larger capacity of smartphones.

On the other hand, a reliable and appropriate storage capacity is required for I-IoT that usually uses a small capacity. TDK's embedded SD ESRD4 series is a SD card, equipped with a highly durable SLC/pSLC NAND flash that can be implemented on boards. It covers a wide range of capacities from 1GB to 32GB, suitable for storing a lightweight system such as Linux and RTOS.

Mushkin Announces New "Source" SSD Product Line

Mushkin Enhanced MFG, an industry-leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance computer products, is announcing the Mushkin Source Series, a new line of solid state drives (SSDs) for the retail, e-tail, system integrator, and channel markets. The Source Series features a powerful, yet cost-effective design suitable for a wide-range of applications.

"The market has never been more ready for SSDs," says Brian Flood, Director of Product Development for Mushkin Enhanced MFG. "With the ultimate balance of value, capacity, and performance, the Source Series leverages all of the great benefits expected from an SSD without breaking the bank."

Power Outage at Samsung NAND Flash Plant Cuts March Global Output by 3.5%

A power-outage on 9th March, at one of Samsung's NAND flash manufacturing plants located in Pyeongtaek, Korea, will have a notable impact on global NAND flash production. It reduced the global NAND flash output for the month of March 2018 by 3.5 percent, a number that isn't insignificant, and translates into non-volatile memory for millions of devices. It also trims Samsung's output by 11 percent for the month. SIlicon fabrication is a highly sensitive process, and the power-outage is said to have damaged up to 60,000 wafers of NAND flash chips.

The impact of this event on global prices of NAND flash memory, and devices based on it, remains to be seen. Any inflation could be nipped in the bud by Samsung and other NAND flash makers significantly increasing production through this quarter. Samsung will begin expansion of its NAND flash plant in Xi'an, China, which currently outputs 120,000 wafers per month, and is expected to put out 320,000 wafers a month after the expansion.

Micron To Release QLC NAND-Based Drives in 2018 to the Server Environment

Micron has announced that they will be introducing QLC (Quad Level Cell) NAND-based, own brand drives for the server environment this year. The new QLC drives are expected to boost maximum storage density (and price per GB) closer to that of mechanical HDDs, which is why Micron is positioning drives based on this memory technology as data center-class SSDs for the nearline storage market. The company is positioning these drives as replacement options for 7,200 RPM HDDs for workloads that require heavy reads of stored information - thus offsetting QLC NAND's lower endurance when it comes to available maximum writes on the drives' cells.

It's a known trade-off when it comes to the NAND world: higher amounts of bits per cell to represent information means that there must be much increased accuracy when it comes to reading a given cell's voltage state. While SLC NAND only tracks two voltage states, MLC (2-bits per cell) tracks four voltage states, TLC doubles that to eight voltage states, and QLC doubles the ante again for a maximum 16 voltage states, where each voltage state represents data on the cell. Of course, with repeat writes and voltage changes, accuracy and capacity for the cell to maintain its given voltage tend to drop, which leads to incorrect information and thus corrupted data or those cells to be rendered inoperative. This is one of the reasons for manufacturers to include overprovisioning in their NAND-based solutions.
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