Western Digital BiCS3 Flash Goes QLC - 96GB per die!

Subject: Storage | August 2, 2017 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, tlc, slc, QLC, nand, mlc, flash, 96GB, 768Gb, 3d

A month ago, WD and Toshiba each put out releases related to their BiCS 3D Flash memory. WD announced 96 layers (BiCS4) as their next capacity node, while Toshiba announced them reliably storing four bits per cell (QLC).

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WD recently did their own press release related to QLC, partially mirroring Toshiba's announcement, but this one had some additional details on capacity per die, as well as stating their associated technology name used for these shifts. TLC was referred to as "X3", and "X4" is the name for their QLC tech as applied to BiCS. The WD release stated that X4 tech, applied to BiCS3, yields 768Gbit (96GB) per die vs. 512Gbit (64GB) per die for X3 (TLC). Bear in mind that while the release (and the math) states this is a 50% increase, moving from TLC to QLC with the same number of cells does only yields a 33% increase, meaning X4 BiCS3 dies need to have additional cells (and footprint) to add that extra 17%.

The release ends by hinting at X4 being applied to BiCS4 in the future, which is definitely exciting. Merging the two recently announced technologies would yield a theoretical 96-layer BiCS4 die, using X4 QLC technology, yielding 1152 Gbit (144GB) per die. A 16 die stack of which would come to 2,304 GB (1.5x the previously stated 1.5TB figure). The 2304 figure might appear incorrect but consider that we are multiplying two 'odd' capacities together (768 Gbit (1.5x512Gbit for TLC) and 96 layers (1.5x64 for X3).

Press blast appears after the break.

The ultimate in SSDs? Adata's new SU900

Subject: Storage | July 11, 2017 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: SU900, adata, 256GB, mlc, SM2258, sata ssd

Adata have added a new series of SSDs to their Ultimate lineup, the SU900, which ranges from the 256GB model sent to The Tech Report to review straight through to a 2TB model.  This incarnation uses 3D MLC flash but retains the Silicon Motion SM2258 controller which was used on the SU800s. In testing the drive surpassed the previous Ultimate drive but did not quite reach the performance levels of the Samsung 850 EVO in some benchmarks, however it did in the actual usage testing.  If you are looking for a drive in that class and have concerns about the longevity of TLC flash, this drive is worth a look.

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"Adata has issued an update to its Ultimate line of SSDs with its SU900 family. Join us as we find out how much of an upgrade 3D MLC flash brings to the company's Ultimate drives versus its past forays with 3D TLC NAND."

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Business on the front and back end, Kingston's SSDNow KC400 series

Subject: Storage | October 3, 2016 - 05:03 PM |
Tagged: kingston, ssdnow KC400, Phison PS3110-S10, mlc, sata ssd

Kitguru has another Phison PS3110-S10 based SSD up for review, the Kingston SSDNow KC400 512GB SATA SSD.  This drive is heavily packaged compared to others, with sixteen 32GB 15nm MLC NAND packages and a 256MB DDR3L-1600 paired with the eight channel controller.  The drive is marketed at businesses and with an 800TB lifetime, 450GB of writes everyday for the five year warranty as well as SmartECC and SmartRefresh it would fit that bill.  Consumers and businesses alike will appreciate the sequential read/write performance of 550MB/s and 530MB/s.  Overall it is another drive that fits into the existing pack of drives and is worth your consideration, especially if you have need of its error correction features.  Read the full review for more information.

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"Kingston’s SSDNow KC400 family is part of the company’s business-oriented SSD product line which features end-to-end data path protection, technologies to protect data in the NAND and guard against read errors, as well as good endurance."

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Source: Kitguru

OCZ's VX500, next generation MLC for those who want price and performance in the same drive

Subject: Storage | September 14, 2016 - 05:53 PM |
Tagged: VX500, ocz, toshiba, TC35, mlc, sata 6Gbs

We've seen a lot of high end SSDs lately so it is nice to be able to link to the new VX500 series from OCZ, or Toshiba to be more technically correct.  Running with MSRPs of ~$150 for the 512GB model and ~$340 for the 1TB model these drives will fit more comfortably into many budgets.  The 1TB model does come with a bit of a price increase thanks to the use of larger MLC NAND chips and the presence of a RAM cache, the 512GB model forgoes the cache altogether.  Hardware Canucks put the 512GB and 1TB models to the test and their speeds hit the top of the SATA charts; if you can't afford the newest SSD tech this is a drive worthy of your consideration.  They did not have the time to fully test the durability but the five year hassle free warranty and rated total disk writes show that the NAND is unlikely to die any time soon.

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"OCZ is diving back into the mainstream SSD market in a big way. Their new VX500 series combines an affordable price with excellent performance and some incredible NAND durability."

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Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Intel launched their Datacenter 'P' Series parts a little over two years ago. Since then, the P3500, P3600, and P3700 lines have seen various expansions and spinoffs. The most recent to date was the P3608, which packed two full P3600's into a single HHHL form factor. With Intel 3D XPoint / Optane parts lurking just around the corner, I had assumed there would be no further branches of the P3xxx line, but Intel had other things in mind. IMFT 3D NAND offers greater die capacities at a reduced cost/GB, apparently even in MLC form, and Intel has infused this flash into their new P3520:

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Remember the P3500 series was Intel's lowest end of the P line, and as far as performance goes, the P3520 actually takes a further step back. The play here is to get the proven quality control and reliability of Intel's datacenter parts into a lower cost product. While the P3500 launched at $1.50/GB, the P3520 pushes that cost down *well* below $1/GB for a 2TB HHHL or U.2 SSD.

Read on for our full review of the Intel DC P3520 SSD!

Leaked Intel Roadmap Details Upcoming Optane XPoint SSDs and Storage Accelerators

Subject: Storage | June 13, 2016 - 03:46 AM |
Tagged: XPoint, tlc, Stony Beach, ssd, pcie, Optane, NVMe, mlc, Mansion Beach, M.2, kaby lake, Intel, imft, Brighton Beach, 3DNAND, 3d nand

A recent post over at benchlife.info included a slide of some significant interest to those who have been drooling over XPoint technology:

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For those unaware, XPoint (spoken 'cross-point') is a new type of storage technology that is persistent like NAND Flash but with speeds closer to that of RAM. Intel's brand name for devices implementing XPoint are called Optane.

Starting at the bottom of the slide, we see a new 'System Acceleration' segment with a 'Stony Beach PCIe/NVMe m.2 System Accelerator'. This is likely a new take on Larson Creek, which was a 20GB SLC SSD launched in 2011. This small yet very fast SLC flash was tied into the storage subsystem via Intel's Rapid Storage Technology and acted as a caching tier for HDDs, which comprised most of the storage market at that time. Since Optane excels at random access, even a PCIe 3.0 x2 part could outmaneuver the fastest available NAND, meaning these new System Accelerators could act as a caching tier for Flash-based SSDs or even HDDs. These accelerators can also be good for boosting the performance of mobile products, potentially enabling the use of cheaper / lower performing Flash / HDD for bulk storage.

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Skipping past the mainstream parts for now, enthusiasts can expect to see Brighton Beach and Mansion Beach, which are Optane SSDs linked via PCIe 3x2 or x4, respectively. Not just accelerators, these products should have considerably more storage capacity, which may bring costs fairly high unless either XPoint production is very efficient or if there is also NAND Flash present on those parts for bulk storage (think XPoint cache for NAND Flash all in one product).

We're not sure if or how the recent delays to Kaby Lake will impact the other blocks on the above slide, but we do know that many of the other blocks present are on-track. The SSD 540s and 5400s were in fact announced in Q2, and are Intel's first shipping products using IMFT 3D NAND. Parts not yet seen announced are the Pro 6000p and 600p, which are long overdue m.2 SSDs that may compete against Samsung's 950 Pro. Do note that those are marked as TLC products (purple), though I suspect they may actually be a hybrid TLC+SLC cache solution.

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Going further out on the timeline we naturally see refreshes to all of the Optane parts, but we also see the first mention of second-generation IMFT 3DNAND. As I hinted at in an article back in February, second-gen 3D NAND will very likely *double* the per-die capacity to 512Gbit (64GB) for MLC and 768Gbit (96GB) for TLC. While die counts will be cut in half for a given total SSD capacity, speed reductions will be partially mitigated by this flash having at least four planes per die (most previous flash was double-plane). A plane is an effective partitioning of flash within the die, with each section having its own buffer. Each plane can perform erase/program/read operations independently, and for operations where the Flash is more limiting than the interface (writes), doubling the number of planes also doubles the throughput. In short, doubling planes roughly negates the speed drop caused by halving the die count on an SSD (until you reach the point where controller-to-NAND channels become the bottleneck, of course).

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IMFT XPoint Die shot I caught at the Intel / Micron launch event.

Well, that's all I have for now. I'm excited to see that XPoint is making its way into consumer products (and Storage Accelerators) within the next year's time. I certainly look forward to testing these products, and I hope to show them running faster than they did back at that IDF demo...

One serving of Micron 3D TLC NAND, hold the NVMe

Subject: General Tech | June 2, 2016 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: micron, 3d nand, tlc, mlc, DEVSLP

Micron have unveiled their new line of 3D NAND, the SATA 6Gbps TLC 1100 and the NVMe MLC 2100, although they only shared details of the former.  The 1100 will introduce DEVSLP mode, where the drives power draw will dip to less than 2mW on the smaller drives, 4mW for the 1TB with the 2TB model requiring 25mW.  The TLC used in the drive is rather impressive, the advertised speeds come very close to what their MLC based M600 drives are capable of.  Check out the full specs and more over at The Register.

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"Intel, its flash foundry partner, introduced its own 3D SSDs, MLC (2bits/cell) ones, in March with the DC P3320 and P3520, with maximum capacity of 2TB. These had an NVME interface whereas Micron’s 1100 has the slower 6Gbit/s SATA interface."

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Source: The Register

Mushkin's Reactor 1TB SSD, great performance and price

Subject: Storage | May 13, 2016 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: Mushkin, Reactor, 1TB, jmicron, JMF612, mlc

While not quite within Ryan's Law, the Mushkin Reactor 1TB model usually sells for around $240.  As the price implies this drive uses MLC flash but the three year warranty should be enough to see you to your next upgrade.  The Tech Report decided to test out the drive to ensure users were getting performance as well as a great value. The results speak for themselves, with better performance than expected.

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"Mushkin's Reactor 1TB SSD is a frequent star of our weekly deals posts. We put it to the test to see whether it offers high performance along with its low price tag."

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Yes it's Apple but OWC does good work, meet the Aura 1TB PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | April 20, 2016 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged: owc, apple, PCIe SSD, Aura, 1TB, mlc

It has been a while since we heard from OWC, over a year since Al saw their offerings at Storage Vision, so it is interesting to see a new PCIe SSD from them.  Their days of Sandforce are over, two SMI 2246 XT 4-channel controllers are paired with a Marvell 9230 RAID controller which allows the four unbranded 256GB MLC flash chips to act as a 1TB RAID 0 drive.  The SSD Reviews found the Macbook Air upgrade drive to run slightly slower than the original 256GB SSD but with quadruple the storage the slight slow down is offset by the extra space.  Check out the Aura drive if you have a Mac in need of upgrade, or if you are simply interested in a tiny 1TB SSD.

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"Because of its limited storage capacity and Apples horrendous cost for upgrades, it was very close to being replaced, at least until OWC contacted me a week ago asking if we might like to review their latest 1TB Aura PCIe SSD replacement for mid-2013 and later MacBooks."

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Adata's XPG SX930, JMicron on the outside, Micron on the inside

Subject: Storage | March 31, 2016 - 03:10 PM |
Tagged: adata, XPG SX930, JMF670H, mlc

Now that Adata's XPG SX930 240GB SSD has been out for a while it is worth revisiting for enthusiasts on a budget.  It is currently $80 on Amazon, short of Ryan's pricing goals as it is just over $0.33/GB but still an attractive price for a drive with JMicron's JMF670H controller.  Also worth noting is the lifespan of the drive, when The Tech Report reached out to ADATA they were told it was 280TB, more than enough for most users.  Check out their review to see how it performs as there are many drives only $30-40 more that have very impressive performance, such as the Trion and 850 EVO.

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"Adata's XPG SX930 combines a JMicron controller and Micron MLC flash into an enthusiast-oriented 240GB SSD. We put it to the test to see whether it's worth its cost of admission."

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