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Micron Tapes Out 128-layer 3D NAND Flash Memory

Micron Technology has taped out its 4th generation 3D NAND flash memory with 128 layers. This paves the way for mass production and product implementations in 2020. The 4th gen 3D NAND by Micron continues to use a CMOS-under-array design, but with Replacement Gate (RG) Technology instead of Floating Gate, which Micron and the erstwhile IMFlash Technology had been using for years. Micron is currently mass-producing 96-layer 3D NAND flash, and TLC remains the prominent data-storage physical layer despite the advent of QLC (4 bits per cell).

Micron comments that this 4th gen 128-layer 3D NAND will be a stopgap restricted to a select few applications, and may not see the kind of adoption as its current 96-layer chips. The company appears to be more focused on its evolution, possibly the 5th generation 3D NAND, which are expected to bring tangible cost-per-bit gains for the company, as it transitions to a newer silicon fabrication node, and implements even newer technologies besides RG. "We achieved our first yielding dies using replacement gate or "RG" for short. This milestone further reduces the risk for our RG transition. As a reminder, our first RG node will be 128 layers and will be used for a select set of products. We don't expect RG to deliver meaningful cost reductions until FY2021 when our second-generation RG node is broadly deployed. Consequently, we are expecting minimal cost reductions in NAND in FY2020. Our RG production deployment approach will optimize the ROI of our NAND capital investments," said Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO and president of Micron.

Intel Shares New Roadmap for Optane, NAND, Including 144 Layer QLC and TLC

Intel today at a press event in South Korea announced their plans for future product launches in the memory spaces. Optane is the name of the carriage Intel is pulling here - there's no novelty about that - and the company will be pushing a second generation release of Optane enterprise SSDs and Optane DC Persistent Memory modules. Most interesting for us down-to-earth PC enthusiasts, though - the market launch of 144 Layer QLC NAND in 2020, which should bring even lower pricing to NAND-based devices. Later, the company also plans to launch 144 layer TLC NAND solutions.

The new Optane modules apparently make use of first-generation 3D XPoint memory still - the love child of the now defunct Intel-Micron partnership. Intel's new Optane DC Persistent Memory products will materialize in codename Barlow Pass modules, with a release window around the likes of Cooper Lake (14nm) and Ice Lake (10nm) server processors scheduled for 2020. It seems that Intel's only consumer solution based in Optane - the Optane Memory H10 two-in-one SSD - is a lonely child effort which won't be joined by the previously-planned Optane Memory M15 (a dedicated cache drive for systems with mechanical-based storage, which are already on their way out) and Optane SSD 815P (which would only offer 118 GB of storage, clearly too little for current data storing trends in the overall market.

SK Hynix Starts Mass-Producing World's First 128-Layer 4D NAND, Working on 176-Layer NAND

SK hynix Inc. announced today that it has developed and started mass-producing the world's first 128-Layer 1 Tb (Terabit) TLC (Triple-Level Cell) 4D NAND Flash, only eight months after the Company announced the 96-Layer 4D NAND Flash last year.

The 128-Layer 1 Tb NAND chip offers the industry's highest vertical stacking with more than 360 billion NAND cells, each of which stores 3 bits, per one chip. To achieve this, SK hynix applied innovative technologies, such as "ultra-homogeneous vertical etching technology," "high-reliability multi-layer thin-film cell formation technology," and ultra-fast low-power circuit design, to its own 4D NAND technology.

The new product provides the industry's highest density of 1 Tb for TLC NAND Flash. A number of companies including SK hynix have developed 1 Tb QLC (Quad-Level Cell) NAND products, but SK hynix is the first to commercialize the 1 Tb TLC NAND Flash. TLC accounts for more than 85% of the NAND Flash market with excellent performance and reliability.

NAND Manufacturers Accelerate Deployment of 120/128 Layer 3D NAND Fabrication

A report from DigiTimes pits NAND manufacturers as accelerating their 120/128 layer 3D NAND technologies, aiming for volume production as early as 2020. Even as SK Hynix has begun sampling its 96-layer 4D NAND flash in March, Toshiba and Western Digital already had plans to introduce 128-layer technology, built on a TLC (Triple Level Cell) process technology so as to increase density while avoiding yield issues present with current QLC (Quad Level Cell) implementations.

The decision to accelerate deployment of the next generation of NAND comes from the fact that the market still faces an oversupply of NAND flash, mostly driven by the mature process of 64-layer NAND technology. With new technologies, higher ASPs and lower production scales are sustainable, which should enable supply to reduce enough so as to increase pricing of NAND-based technologies - and allow manufacturers to somewhat reset asking prices for new NAND chips.

ADATA Unveils its M.2 PCIe Gen4 SSD: Ready for AMD X570

It looks like SSDs will beat graphics cards to utilizing (and benefiting) from the bandwidth of PCI-Express gen 4.0 bus. AMD X570 platform motherboards offer 2-3 M.2 slots with PCIe gen 4.0 x4 wiring (64 Gbps). Corsair formally launched the MP600, and now ADATA joins the party with its unnamed drive. Based on the Silicon Motion SM2267 controller, the drive comes in an unbelievable capacity of up to 8 TB, probably using 96-layer QLC NAND flash.

The controller features DRAM cache, and dynamic SLC caching (all of the NAND flash is treated as SLC until storage demands force portions of them to be treated as MLC, TLC, and eventually QLC). It takes advantage of NVMe 1.3 protocol. As for performance, ADATA claims sequential speeds of up to 4000 MB/s reads. Such speeds were impossible of PCIe gen 3.0 x4 due to various overheads. Sequential writes are still up to 3000 MB/s. 4K random read/write access is rated at 400k IOPS. The company didn't reveal availability details.

SK Hynix Begins Sampling 96-layer 4D QLC NAND Flash Memory

SK Hynix Inc., announced today that it has delivered samples of new 1Tb (Terabit) QLC (Quadruple Level Cell) product to major SSD (Solid State Drive) Controller companies. The Company applied its own QLC technology to its world's first 96-Layer "CTF (Charge Trap Flash) based 4D (Four-Dimensional) NAND Flash (or 4D NAND)." SK Hynix intends to expand its NAND portfolio to 96-layer-based 1Tb QLC products in time for the QLC market opening and strengthen its responsiveness to the next-generation high-density memory market.

QLC stores four bits of data in one NAND cell, allowing higher density compared to TLC (Triple Level Cell) that stores three bits per cell. Using QLC, it is possible to develop high-density products with cost competitiveness. SK Hynix is able to secure the industry's top-level cost competitiveness through this product, which has reduced the area to less than 90% of the existing 3D-based QLC products.

Intel Packs 3D X-Point and QLC NAND Flash Into a Single SSD: Optane H10

Intel today revealed details about Intel Optane memory H10 with solid-state storage - an innovative device that combines the superior responsiveness of Intel Optane technology with the storage capacity of Intel Quad Level Cell (QLC) 3D NAND technology in a single space-saver M.2 form factor. "Intel Optane memory H10 with solid-state storage features the unique combination of Intel Optane technology and Intel QLC 3D NAND - exemplifying our disruptive approach to memory and storage that unleashes the full power of Intel-connected platforms in a way no else can provide," said Rob Crooke, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group.

Combining Intel Optane technology with Intel QLC 3D NAND technology on a single M.2 module enables Intel Optane memory expansion into thin and light notebooks and certain space-constrained desktop form factors - such as all-in-one PCs and mini PCs. The new product also offers a higher level of performance not met by traditional Triple Level Cell (TLC) 3D NAND SSDs today and eliminates the need for a secondary storage device.

Samsung Profits Tank as DRAM, NAND Flash, and SoC Prices Slump

Samsung Electronics Q1-2019 preliminary reads like a horror story to investors, as the company posted its worst drop in operating-profit in over four years. Operating income fell 60 percent in the quarter ending March 2019, to about USD $5.5 billion, beating Bloomberg analysts who had predicted a 56 percent drop. Sluggish sales to IoT major Amazon, smartphone major Apple, and other handset makers, compounded by swelling inventory in the supply chain, has triggered sharp drops in DRAM prices that were offsetting critically low NAND flash prices. Demand for Samsung SoCs (application processors) is also on the decline.

Samsung is betting heavily on the success of its Galaxy S10 family of smartphones to recover from losses faced in the three component markets. Prices of DRAM prices fell 22 percent YoY, and NAND flash continues to slide by roughly that much, at 23 percent. NAND flash prices have been on a continuous decline over the past 3 years. DRAM prices, on the other hand, rallied in that period, and it's only now that it posted its first price-drop since 2016. NAND flash prices are expected to slide further down, as oversupply and failure of newer technologies like QLC taking off, hurt NAND flash manufacturers.

Intel Announces Broadest Product Portfolio for Moving, Storing, and Processing Data

Intel Tuesday unveiled a new portfolio of data-centric solutions consisting of 2nd-Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, Intel Optane DC memory and storage solutions, and software and platform technologies optimized to help its customers extract more value from their data. Intel's latest data center solutions target a wide range of use cases within cloud computing, network infrastructure and intelligent edge applications, and support high-growth workloads, including AI and 5G.

Building on more than 20 years of world-class data center platforms and deep customer collaboration, Intel's data center solutions target server, network, storage, internet of things (IoT) applications and workstations. The portfolio of products advances Intel's data-centric strategy to pursue a massive $300 billion data-driven market opportunity.

2019 the Year of 1TB SSDs: Prices Fall by 50%

1-Terabyte SSDs could become a new mainstream-desktop must-have in 2019, as prices of the drives have fallen by 50 percent year-over-year, according to DigiTimes. A 1 TB SATA SSD in the 2.5-inch form-factor can now be had for as little as $99, while faster NVMe drives in the M.2 form-factor start around $130. At the beginning of 2018, 1 TB SATA SSDs used to start around the $160-mark, and NVMe drives north of $200. The 1 TB category includes 960 GB, 1000 GB, and 1024 GB marketed capacities with varying amounts of overprovisioning set by manufacturers.

Falling SSD prices are accelerated by the entry of cost-effective 96-layer 3D NAND flash, higher-density QLC NAND flash, undigested inventories of drives based on older technologies such as 64-layer or TLC NAND flash; and a 15 percent sequential quarterly drop in NAND flash prices in the industry. Growth in speeds of client-segment SSDs have remained largely flat over the year, and not much is to be expected in performance growth other than perhaps the advent of PCIe gen 4.0 based enterprise SSDs towards the end of the year.

Toshiba Shows Off 96-Layer BiCS FLASH Alongside Plethora of Enterprise SSDs at CES 2019

During our visit with Toshiba at CES 2019, we were shown not only new technologies that they will be rapidly deploying but a large number of SSDs for various market segments. The biggest draw was their 96-layer BiCS Flash with 4-bit-per-cell quadruple-level cell (QLC) technology. Toshiba is now pushing the boundary for capacity as a single chip device can reach 1.33 Tb (Terabits) while a single package device with 16-dies stacked architecture can reach 2.66 TB. That said, they are already sampling their 1 TB NVMe single package BG4 series SSDs to PC OEM customers in limited quantities.

These latest drives with their new BiCS FLASH technology incorporate everything into a tiny SSD that offers class-leading storage with sequential read performance reaching up to 2250 MB/s. Random read performance can also hit exceptional levels reaching up to 380,000 IOPS. For now, these BG4 based drives are targeted at ultra-thin PC notebooks, IoT embedded systems and will be made available in four capacities including; 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB and finally 1 TB. To meet expected demand, Toshiba will also be opening a facility in Japan dedicated to this latest technology in order to bring even higher capacities per NAND module.

Samsung Launches The New 860 QVO SSD Starting At $149.99 For The 1 TB Model

Samsung Electronics today unveiled its new consumer solid state drive (SSD) lineup - the Samsung 860 QVO SSD - featuring up to four terabytes (TB) of storage capacity with exceptional speed and reliability. Built on the company's high-density 4-bit multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash architecture, the 860 QVO makes terabyte capacities more accessible to the masses at approachable price points.

"Today's consumers are using, producing and storing more high-resolution files than ever, including 4K videos and graphics-intensive games, escalating demand for greater capacities and performance in storage devices," said Dr. Mike Mang, vice president of Brand Product Marketing, Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. "Samsung continues to lead the move toward multi-terabyte SSDs with the introduction of the Samsung 860 QVO, delivering fast performance, reliability and value to more consumers around the world."

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.

The New Samsung 860 QVO SSD With QLC NAND Gets Listed Online, Will Be Cheaper Than the Evo family

In October Samsung took the stage on its Tech Day event and announced its SSD roadmap. One of the key elements of that roadmap was the project to launch QLC (quad-level cell) SSDs, and now we've got more information on these products. Several European online retailers -French and Italian- have already listed the new Samsung 860 QVO units, which means their official availability is near us.

The new SSD drives will feature the conventional 2.5-inch format with SATA interface, but the naming scheme changes from EVO or Pro to the new QVO, which stands for "Quality and Value Optimized SSD". Performance goes up to 550/520 MB per second for sequential read/write, and apparently these SSDs will feature 96,000 IOPS read and 89,000 IOPS write. There will be at least three variants: 1 TB (MZ-76Q1T0BW), 2 TB (MZ-76Q2T0BW) and 4 TB (MZ-76Q4T0BW), with prices of 117.50 euros, 225,96 euros and 451,93 euros (VAT excluded) according to those online retailers. Even with taxes included 19% would make 140, 270 and 540 euros), these are cheaper priced than the ones we can find on the Evo family (160, 380 and 850 euros at those storage capacities), for example. Some of these online shops mention December 2018 as the ETA.

ADATA Launches Ultimate SU630 3D QLC NAND SSD

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high-performance DRAM modules, and mobile accessories today launched the ADATA Ultimate SU630 2.5" SATA 6Gb/s SSD, which signals its expansion into 3D QLC NAND Flash storage. With next-generation QLC (Quad-Level Cell) 3D NAND Flash, the SU630 delivers terrific value, great performance, and superb reliability, offering users a viable alternative to HDDs for their next upgrade.

Delivering excellent performance without the less than great value typically associated with SSDs, the SU630 gives HDDs a run for their money. It comes in 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB capacities and sports 3D QLC NAND Flash to deliver improved reliability, longevity, and performance over its TLC counterparts. Reinforced by performance-boosting SLC Caching, the SU630 reaches speeds of 520 MB/s read, and 450 MB/s write for smooth and fast boot, file transfers, and downloads. What's more, the SSD also features characteristics that work to keep data safe, including a shock rating of 1500G/0.5ms and resilience to temperature changes (0°C ~ 70°C), while also being more energy-efficient and quieter than HDDs.

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.

Crucial Announces the P1 M.2 NVMe SSD with QLC NAND Flash

Crucial, a leading consumer brand of Micron Technology for memory and storage upgrades, today announced the availability of the Crucial P1 SSD, a PC storage device that leverages the NVMe PCIe interface and Micron's leading-edge QLC technology to deliver fast capacity for less. This is an expansion of Crucial's award-winning portfolio of dependable, high-performing, and affordable SSDs.

The Crucial P1 SSD delivers category-leading, real-world performance. PCMark 8 benchmarks show that the drive is capable of mixed-mode throughputs of up to 565 MB/s, with a composite score of 5,084, which outperforms similar SSDs within the price category. With sequential read/write speeds up to 2,000/1,700 MB/s, the P1 provides unwavering performance via hybrid-dynamic write acceleration, a unique SLC cache implementation. The drive offers an MTTF of 1.8 million hours and an endurance of up to 200 TB total bytes written, with power usage at an active average of 100mW.

3D QLC Woes - Manufacturers Fighting to Get Yields Above 50%

3D QLC (quad-level cell) is the latest, manufacture-ready technology to grace the NAND panorama, with promises of increased density over 3D TLC (triple-level cell), thus bringing pricing per GB even lower. However, as with all wafer-based PC components, yields are an extremely important part of that process. Cost reduction can only be attained if manufacturing allows for a given percentage of a wafer to be fully functional and without defects that compromise its feature-set or performance. However, as cell design becomes more complex in a bid to increase areal density, yields have taken longer to mature.

According to DigiTimes, 3D TLC yields have only gotten off the ground in the beginning of this year - right around the time companies were rolling out their 3D QLC designs. And if TLC took longer than expected to achieve respectable yields, it seems that QLC memory will take even longer - we already knew that the Intel-Micron venture on QLC was facing less than 50% yields, but DigiTimes has now extended this struggle to what seems to be the entire NAND manufacturing industry (Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, Toshiba/ Western Digital and Micron Technology/Intel). The result? Expected price fluctuations in the beginning of 2019, as predicted production volume fails to meet both projected and actual demand, with 3D TLC supplies having to cope with increased market demands.

Intel-Micron QLC NAND Yields Less Than 50%, a Prelude to Global SSD Price Hikes?

IMFlash Technologies (IMFT), the Intel-Micron joint venture that manufactures NAND flash and 3D Xpoint memory for use in Intel and Micron end-user products, and Micron Technology-branded NAND flash supply to other SSD manufacturers, is facing a big hurdle with its QLC NAND flash manufacturing ramp-up, which if not checked, could influence SSD prices globally. The company is apparently seeing dangerously low yields of less than 50 percent for its 3D QLC NAND flash memory. This effectively makes its QLC NAND pricier (in terms of $/GB) than current-generation 3D TLC NAND.

The first victim of low yields of 3D QLC NAND flash is Intel's SSD 660p series, a mainstream NVMe SSD that brought 1 TB of storage under the $200-mark. Sources within IMFT tell Tweaktown that the company is seeing 48% yields in its 64-layer QLC NAND flash wafers (i.e. 52% of the wafer is unfit for further production). In contrast, 64-layer 3D TLC yields are above 90% (margin/incomplete dies are excluded from these figures). What's worse, the source predicts that the conditions may never get better with this generation.

Lite-On Unveils Powerful New SSD for Enterprise Workloads

At the Flash Memory Summit (FMS) 2018, LITE-ON Storage previewed the first EDSFF 1U solid-state drive (SSD) to emerge from its work with CNEX Labs. The revolutionary drive gained great interest among storage advocates.

In collaboration with such partners, LITE-ON delivers an innovative and highly efficient storage solution for scalable computing that aligns to Open Compute Project (OCP) specifications. The resulting EDSFF (Enterprise and Datacenter SSD Form Factor) SSD will provide a more cost-effective solution for enterprise and hyperscale cloud environments.

"Standard SSD solutions are great at handling many typical business workloads, but the complexity of storing information in both cloud and data center infrastructure requires SSD firmware to be flexible and adaptable," said Charlie Tseng, CEO of LITE-ON Storage. "LITE-ON's expertise in SSD firmware is perfect for the varying needs of customers."

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.

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.

Intel Intros 660p Series M.2 NVMe SSDs with QLC NAND Flash

Intel Tuesday introduced the new SSD 660p series M.2 NVMe solid state drives. At the heart of these drives is the new 64-layer 3D QLC (quadruple level cell, or 4 bits per cell) NAND flash memory by IMFlash Technology (an Intel and Micron joint-venture). This memory is mated with a SIlicon Motion SMI 2263 controller. This chip is a derivative of the popular SMI2262EN, built on a newer process, with support for QLC NAND flash, compacted to have a smaller PCB footprint, and is driven by a custom firmware by Intel. The drives use over 10% of the QLC NAND flash area as SLC cache. The 660p series comes in three variants based on size - 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB. The prices are the biggest dividend of QLC: the 512 GB variant goes for USD $99.99, the 1 TB variant at $199.99, and the 2 TB variant for $399.99.

Built in the M.2-2280 form-factor, the SSD 660p series drives feature PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface. Intel's pricing puts these drives close to competing drives with PCIe x2 interface, but offering higher transfer rates thanks to the wider bus. It's also interesting to note here that the controller is cushioned by a DRAM cache (something PCIe x2 drives tend to lack, to keep costs down). Performance numbers differ by variant, and the 512 GB drive is the slowest, sequentially reading at speeds of up to 1500 MB/s, with up to 1000 MB/s sequential writes; up to 90,000 4K random reads, and up to 220,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The 1 TB and 2 TB variants both sequentially read and write at up to 1800 MB/s. The 1 TB variant offers 150,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 220,000 IOPS random writes; while the 2 TB variant has 4K random reads/writes numbers of 220,000 IOPS.

Samsung starts Mass Production of QLC Consumer SSDs, 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB with over 520 MB/s Read/Write

Samsung Electronics, the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has begun mass producing the industry's first 4-bit (QLC, quad-level cell) 4-terabyte (TB) SATA solid-state drive (SSD) for consumers.

Based on 1-terabit (Tb) V-NAND with outstanding performance equivalent to the company's 3-bit design, Samsung's QLC SSD is expected to bring a new level of efficiency to consumer SSDs.

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.
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