SK Hynix Sampling Enterprise SSDs With 72-Layer 512Gb 3D TLC Flash

Subject: Storage | February 7, 2018 - 10:03 PM |
Tagged: tlc, SK Hynix, enterprise ssd, 72-layer tlc, 3d-v4, 3d nand

SK Hynix has revealed its new enterprise solid state drives based on 72-layer 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND flash dies paired with the company's own in-house controller and firmware. The SK Hynix eSSDs are available in a traditional SAS/SATA interfacing product with capacities up to 4TB and a PCI-E variant that comes in 'above 1TB." Both drive types are reportedly being sampled to datacenter customers in the US.

SK Hynix Enterprise SSDs eSSD.jpg

SK Hynix has managed to double the capacity and improve the read latency of its new 512 Gb 72-layer NAND flash over its previous 256 Gb 72-layer flash which debuted last year. The eSSD product reportedly hits sequential read and write speeds of 560 MB/s and 515 MB/s respectively. Interestingly, while random read IOPS hit 98,000, random write performance is significantly lower at 32,000 IOPS. SK Hynix did not go into details, but I suspect this has to do with the tuning they did to improve read latency and the nature of the 72-layer stacked TLC flash.

Moving up to the PCI-E interfacing eSSD, customers can expect greater than 1TB capacities (SK Hynix did not specify the maximum capacity they will offer) with sequential reads hitting up to 2,700 MB/s and sequential writes hitting 1,100 MB/s. The random performance is similar to the above eSSD with write performance being much lower than read performance at 230K read IOPS and 35K write IOPS maximum. The greatly limited write performance may be the result of the drive not having enough flash channels or the flash itself not being fast enough at writes which was a tradeoff SK Hynix had to make to hit the capacity targets with larger capacity 512 Gb (64 GB) dies.

Unfortunately, SK Hynix has not yet provided further details on its new eSSDs or the 3D-V4 TLC NAND it is using in the new drives. SK Hynix continuing to push into the enterprise storage market with its own SSDs is an interesting play that should encourage them push for advancements and production efficiencies to advance NAND flash technology.

Also read:

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Samsung launched their 850 line of SSDs in mid-2014 (over three years ago now). The line evolved significantly over time, with the additions of PRO and EVO models, capacity expansions reaching up to 4TB, and a later silent migration to 64-layer V-NAND. Samsung certainly got their money's worth out of the 850 name, but it is now time to move onto something newer:




Of note above is a significantly higher endurance rating as compared to the 850 Series products, along with an update to a new 'MJX' controller, which accounts for a slight performance bump across the board. Not mentioned here is the addition of queued TRIM, which is more of a carryover from the enterprise / Linux systems (Windows 10 does not queue its TRIM commands).



Aside from some updated specs and the new name, packaging remains very much the same.

Read on for our review of the Samsung 860 PRO and EVO SSDs (in multiple capacities!)

(Those of you interested in Samsung's press release for this launch will find it after the break)

CES 2018: Crucial Expands MX500 Lineup - 2.5" SATA up to 2TB, M.2 2280 SATA up to 1TB

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2018 - 07:38 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, slc, sata, nand, MX500, DWA, crucial, CES 2018, CES, 3d nand

Crucial showed off the upcoming M.2 variant of its MX500 product, available in capacities up to 1TB. They also announced (press release after the break) that the MX500 will be available from 250GB up to 2TB capacities.


Here is Crucial's product tour video for the MX500:

We previously tested the 1TB MX500, and Crucial passed along a 500GB model that I was able to spot check to ensure there was no performance fall-off at the smaller capacities of this line:



Looks good so far, and nearly identical to the 1TB capacity across our entire test suite. We did also speak with Crucial reps (Jon and Jon) about the TRIM speed issues noted in our previous review. They are looking into replicating our testing and may be pushing out a firmware to help improve this metric moving forward.


We also saw some sweet looking new RGB Ballistix memory, due out shortly. More to follow there! Crucial's MX500 CES announcement appears after the break.

Source: Crucial

CES 2018: Mushkin Launches New M.2 NVMe SSDs

Subject: Storage | January 10, 2018 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: Mushkin, silicon motion, SM2262, SM2263XT, 3d nand, tlc, M.2, NVMe, CES, CES 2018

Mushkin is on site at CES where it is launching a slew of new products. On the storage front, Mushkin is showing off three new M.2 2280 form factor NVMe solid state drives aimed at various price points. The Pilot, Pilot-E, and Helix-L M.2 drives all use Silicon Motion controllers and 3D TLC NAND flash memory. Mushkin further advertises them with a three-year warranty and the company's MEDS Reliability Suite which includes technology to enable end-to-end data path protection, LDPC ECC, and global wear leveling algorithms to ensure data integrity and longevity.


At the top end of performance is the Pilot-E M.2 SSD based on SM2262EN controller which offers up eight channels for connecting all the 3D NAND. This 250 GB to 2 TB drive is able to achieve extremely speedy 3.5 GB/s sequential reads and 3.0 GB/s sequential writes along with 370K read IOPS and 300K write IOPS. Essentially, the Pilot-E M.2 should be able to easily max out the PCI-E x4 connection with the right workloads.

Stepping down a bit, the Pilot drive uses an eight channel SM2262 controller. This drive gets close to the Pilot-E in reads, but has much lower sequential write performance. Capacities for this SSD range from 120 GB to 2 TB. Specifically, the Pilot SSD is rated at 3.2 GB/s sequential reads, 1.9 GB/s sequential writes, 370K random read IOPS, and 300K random write IOPS. This drive should be cheaper than the Pilot-E and will be aimed at the consumer space where reads are more important than writes.


Finally, Mushkin's Helix-L is a lower cost SSD that uses a DRAM-less design to reduce cost as well as a cheaper four channel SM2263XT controller. Capacities range from 120 GB to 1TB. This SSD supports Host Memory Buffer architecture which allows it to use system memory as a cache to improve performance. The Helix-L is rated at 2.4 GB/s sequential reads, 1.7 GB/s sequential writes, 280K random read IOPS (140K without HMB) and 250K random write IOPS.

Mushkin has not yet revealed pricing or availability on its new NVMe 1.3 drives. You can read more about the Silicon Motion controllers used here.

Source: Mushkin

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

Subject: Storage | August 2, 2017 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: BiCS3, 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).


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.

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Today Intel is launching a new line of client SSDs - the SSD 545S Series. These are simple, 2.5" SATA parts that aim to offer good performance at an economical price point. Low-cost SSDs is not typically Intel's strong suit, mainly because they are extremely rigorous on their design and testing, but the ramping up of IMFT 3D NAND, now entering its second generation stacked to 64-layers, should finally help them get the cost/GB down to levels previously enjoyed by other manufacturers.


Intel and Micron jointly announced 3D NAND just over two years ago, and a year ago we talked about the next IMFT capacity bump coming as a 'double' move. Well, that's only partially happening today. The 545S line will carry the new IMFT 64-layer flash, but the capacity per die remains the same 256Gbit (32GB) as the previous generation parts. The dies will be smaller, meaning more can fit on a wafer, which drives down production costs, but the larger 512Gbit dies won't be coming until later on (and in a different product line - Intel told us they do not intend to mix die types within the same lines as we've seen Samsung do in the past).



There are no surprises here, though I am happy to see a 'sustained sequential performance' specification stated by an SSD maker, and I'm happier to see Intel claiming such a high figure for sustained writes (implying this is the TLC writing speed as the SLC cache would be exhausted in sustained writes).

I'm also happy to see sensical endurance specs for once. We've previously seen oddly non-scaling figures in prior SSD releases from multiple companies. Clearly stating a specific TBW 'per 128GB' makes a lot of sense here, and the number itself isn't that bad, either.



Simplified packaging from Intel here, apparently to help further reduce shipping costs.

Read on for our full review of the Intel 545S 512GB SSD!

SK Hynix has huge stacks of NAND

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2017 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: SK Hynix, 72 layer, tlc

SK Hynix have created an impressive die which has 72 layers of TLC 3D NAND.  The storage density of their chips are somewhat lower than the competition, this particular chip sports 256Gb of capacity.  This is due to the larger size of SK Hynix's cells, which has the benefit of allowing more layers than other manufacturers have been able to successfully create.  The Register was told that compared to the previous generation of 48 layer NAND you could expect to see up to a 20% increase in read and write speeds, another benefit to their new process.  To think, it was just a year ago that Al first introduced us to what 3D NAND would mean to the PC industry.


"Korean flash fabber SK Hynix has built a 72-layer 3D NAND die with 256Gb capacity. That number of layers, in effect a higher-rise flash chip than anybody else has built, is impressive but the 256Gb capacity is not; Toshiba's 64-layer flash die has a 512Gb capacity. Like the SK Hynix chip, it is a TLC (3bits/cell) device. It started sample shipping in February."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: The Register

Crucial expands their MX300 line of SSDs all the way up to 2TB

Subject: Storage | February 14, 2017 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: tlc, slc, MX300, micron, imft, Dynamic Write Acceleration, DWA, crucial, 3DNAND, 3d nand

Last June Al took a look at the Crucial MX300 750GB and its ability to switch its cache dynamically from TLC to SLC, helping Crucial improve how they implemented this feature along the way.  It proved to be a great value for the money; not the best performing drive but among the least expensive on the market.  Crucial has since expanded the lineup and Hardware Canucks took a look at the 2TB model.  This model has more than just a larger pool of NAND, the RAM cache has been doubled up to 1GB and the dynamic cache has more space to work in as well.  Take a look at this economy sized drive in their full review.


"Crucial's newest MX300 series continues to roll on with a new 2TB version. This SSD may be one of the best when it comes to performance, price and capacity all combined into one package."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:


Speedy storage at stocking stuffer prices, the Samsung 750 EVO

Subject: Storage | December 19, 2016 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, SSD 750, slc, sata, Samsung, planar, 750, 2d

With current prices of $61 for 120GB, $89 for the 250GB and $140 for the 500GB model, anyone still stuck using spinning rust for their main drive can join the flash revolution.  Al reviewed these drives at the beginning of the year and there have been so many new drives this year you may have forgotten about it.  It is not the highest tech drive on the market, with 2D NAND and a SATA interface, which is also why they are so inexpensive.  Kitguru recently wrapped up a review of the drives and the Magician software which comes with it.


"The one thing that was missing from Samsung’s range of SSD’s was a low price value oriented drive. This has been rectified by the arrival of the SSD750 EVO product line. To keep production costs and therefore the cost of the drive down, Samsung has forsaken the 3D V-NAND of the last few drive ranges and gone back to 2D Planer NAND."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:


Source: Kitguru

Micron Launches 5100 Series Enterprise SSDs - 3D TLC up to 8TB!

Subject: Storage | December 5, 2016 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, sata, micron

Today Micron initiated the first of a multi-tier launch of a new SATA Enterprise SSD lineup built around their IMFT 32-layer 3D NAND Flash. It may seem odd for a full enterprise line to use IMFT 3D TLC, as that flash has not been known for the high random IOPS demands of the datacenter, but Micron looks to be making it work, and work well.


Above is a performance consistency plot of their MAX model. While this does have the highest OP of all of the models, the consistency is surpassing even NVMe models (using a bus *much* faster than SATA). Sure the results are only using 1-second averages and not our Latency Percentile, but we will be able to pick out any single-IO inconsistencies once we get samples in for detailed review.


Saturated IOPS performance also looks good 'on paper'.

The advantage to operating their flash in TLC mode is that the per die capacity moves from 32GB to 48GB, ultimately driving down the cost/GB of these products and making them an easier sell to enterprise customers. It also enables high capacities - the max capacity of the model with the least overprovisioning (ECO) will reach 8TB in a 2.5" SATA form factor when the last leg of this launch is completed later next year.

The three lines are all using the same controller and base firmware, but with differences in how the dies are laid out with respect to expected performance and endurance.

Below are all of the products being launched. All products use a Marvell 88SS1074 controller at SATA 6Gbit:

  • 5100 ECO
    • 2.5" 7mm: 480, 960, 1920, 3840, 7680 GB
    • M.2 2280: 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 380-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 93k / 9k-31k IOPS
    • Endurance: <=1 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.45 - $0.55
  • 5100 PRO
    • 2.5" 7mm: 240, 480, 960, 1920, 3840 GB
    • M.2 2280: 240, 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 380-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 78 (240GB)-93k / 26k-43k IOPS
    • Endurance: 1-3 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.55 - $0.65
  • 5100 MAX
    • 2.5" 7mm: 240, 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • M.2 2280: (none)
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 310-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 93k / 48k-74k IOPS
    • Endurance: 5 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.65 - $0.75

All models come with Micron 'Flex Capacity', which enables custom *increases* in OverProvisioning. Flex Security enables FIPS 140-2 validated 256-bit AES encryption.

The specs are very good when you consider their performance consistency claims, meaning a 74k IOPS random write rating applies to random writes across the *entire span* of the SSD *at steady state*. Consumer SSD firmware typically chokes with this type of workload, even ones equipped with MLC flash.

We will have more on the 5100 Series from Micron as these products are rolled out and sampled to us for performance review.

Press blast after the break.

Source: Micron