Computex 2015: Micron Announces 16nm TLC For Consumer SSDs

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2015 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, micron, flash, computex 2015, computex, 16nm

Chugging right along that TechInsights Flash Roadmap we saw last year, Micron has announced the TLC extension to their 16nm flash memory process node.

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While 16nm TLC was initially promised Q4 of 2014, I believe Micron distracted themselves a little with their dabbles into Dynamic Write Acceleration technology. No doubt wanting to offer ever more cost effective SSDs to their portfolio, the new TLC 16nm flash will take up less die space for the same capacity, meaning more dies per 300mm wafer, ultimately translating to lower cost/GB of consumer SSDs.

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Micron's 16nm (MLC) flash

The Crucial MX200 and BX100 SSDs have already been undercutting the competition in cost/GB, so the possibility of even lower cost SSDs is a more than welcome idea - just so long as they can keep the reliability of these parts high enough. IMFT has a very solid track record in this regard, so I don't suspect any surprises in that regard.

Full press blast appears after the break.

Micron Announces New Flash Storage Designed for Consumer Applications

New High-Capacity Triple-Level-Cell (TLC) NAND Provides Efficient, High-Performance Storage

News Highlights – 16nm TLC NAND

  • Offers a focused balance in cost, capacity and performance.
  • Enables the same capacity as MLC NAND with a 28% savings in die area.
  • Targeted for use in applications that value performance and reliability, but where cost per GB is the first and foremost consideration, including USB drives and consumer solid state drives.

COMPUTEX, TAIPEI, TAIWAN AND BOISE, IDAHO, June 3, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Today, Micron Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: MU) announced a new addition to its expansive portfolio of flash storage products, providing a purpose-built solution for cost-sensitive consumer applications seeking high performance and reliability. The new TLC NAND is built on their 16-nanometer (nm) process and delivers a balanced set of features for applications like USB drives and consumer solid state drives. The market appetite for TLC is projected to be strong throughout 2015, constituting almost half of the total NAND gigabytes shipped.

Micron’s 16nm process—recognized by TechInsights as the Most Innovative Memory Device and 2014 Semiconductor of the Year—is a mature and proven storage technology, making it an excellent foundation for a reliable TLC design. TLC, or triple-level cell, is a technology that fits three bits in every flash data cell, creating greater cost and size efficiency.

Customers of the technology will benefit from Micron’s extensive design support team, who act as trusted advisors to ensure smooth qualification and optimal end-solution performance. Key flash customers and ecosystem partners worldwide have already begun working to integrate this new NAND with their latest designs, ensuring quick adoption in end applications.

“Our new TLC NAND technology meets the ever-rising demand for reliable high-capacity storage,” said Kevin Kilbuck, director of NAND planning at Micron. “We see 16nm TLC as an excellent solution for 2015 consumer applications as we drive toward 3D NAND TLC production in 2016.”

The new TLC part adds to Micron’s comprehensive portfolio of flash products, which spans four process generations and multiple technologies to ensure focused solutions for almost any application imaginable—everything from consumer and mobile to enterprise, embedded, and automotive markets. The new 16GB TLC NAND is in production and available now. Micron has been sampling multiple partners, which will enable consumer SSD solutions based on this technology to come to market this fall. Micron also expects to release its own TLC-based client SSD in that timeframe.

Quotes

Kevin Chen, Vice President, ADATA

“We’re excited to release a new line of consumer SSDs featuring Micron TLC. The cost-to-performance, technical support and reliability provided by Micron ensures our customers get the best value for their storage.”

James Lee, President, Tigo

“Reliable TLC flash is critical to building storage products that serve developing markets. Micron’s 16nm TLC delivers the ideal balance of features for our customers.”

Chris Chen, Director of Product Management, Transcend Information

“Our consumers depend on high density storage at an affordable price point. Micron’s 16nm TLC will be an excellent choice for consumer media cards and storage.”

Brett Pemble, Vice President of SSD Products, Seagate

 “We have enjoyed a close collaborative relationship with Micron and look forward to continued solution shipments that integrate both of our latest technologies. Our new SF3500 client SSD controller is intended to create a compelling platform for using this latest Micron technology in both OEM and our own PCIe and SATA SSDs—delivering a win-win for all companies."

Nelson Duann, Vice President of Product Marketing, Silicon Motion Inc.

“We have a long history of strong cooperation with Micron to ensure seamless integration of their flash with our advanced controller technology. We are excited to be the first to offer high-performance, cost effective USB and SSD controllers supporting Micron’s 16nm TLC NAND.”


June 3, 2015 | 02:47 AM - Posted by pdjblum

TLC has brought only a marginal decrease in price but a significant drop in quality. Storage medium should be reliable. TLC is all about fatter margins for the company. The consumer gets a slight price break and a suboptimal SSD. This reminds me of when a few years back everyone was using 1080 monitors while finding a 1920 x 1200 monitor was next to impossible. The companies were taking advantage of naive consumers in that case. Fortunately Nvidia and AMD pushed for higher res monitors so to be able to sell ever more powerful graphics cards. Demand MLC and don't buy this crap. Don't be an easy mark.

June 3, 2015 | 08:25 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

From the Wikipedia article on 16x10:

"The primary reason for this move was considered to be production efficiency[3][7] - since display panels for TVs use the 16:9 aspect ratio, it became more efficient for display manufacturers to produce computer display panels in the same aspect ratio as well."

There is almost always manufacturing trade-offs that the consumer is unaware off. The higher aspect ratio displays suit most consumers quite well given what the computer is used for. In fact, for gaming there is demand for even wider 21x9 displays.

I have one of the last 16x10 displays (Dell U3011, 2560x1600, IPS) with flourecent backlight. The LED models at the time I purchased it had bad color. It is great for images, but text is not as good as I would like due to the low PPI. I have gotten used to high PPI phone displays. With the drive to higher resolutions, since 3D failed to get people to upgrade their TV, I don't think aspect ratio is a big issue anymore. The vertical resolution at 4k is good, and I suspect they may be pushing 8k in a few years. I have been looking at the so-called 5k displays. Also, with the flexibility to mount displays anyway you want, if you value vertical space, you can just get a display (or multiple displays) that can be flipped sideways. I have seen computer programmers do this with 2 or more widescreen displays mounted sideways for maximum vertical resolution.

For TLC vs MLC, it is cheaper for TLC, and lower per cell reliability can be designed around. An individual cell may have reliability and/or durability issues, but the device as a whole can offer good reliability. Network connections are the same way; higher level mechanisms ensure that data is sent without errors, but this does not mean that errors are not occurring at lower levels and just being corrected. At this point, SSDs seem more reliable that hard drives. Flash will eventually wear out, but hard drives seem more likely to have sudden, catastrophic failure. SSDs should give you warnings when you are getting close to the limits. The vertical flash cells will increase per cell reliability significantly, so this may be the last planar flash process generation. If you want to pay for MLC, then you generally have that option. It isn't like display aspect ratios where you probably can't easily find displays with alternate ratios.

June 3, 2015 | 01:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

16nm TLC leave it be, It's better to go with a larger process node and stacking for better state retention. I'll bet that the controller is having to do some error correction more often on these plainer flash chips. At least with 3d the individual layers can be made a little thicker, to provide sufficient atoms for better state retention on processes smaller than 21nm.

MLC, or SLC please.

June 6, 2015 | 12:10 AM - Posted by HERETIC (not verified)

"IMFT has a very solid track record in this regard, so I don't suspect any surprises in that regard."

As long as we forget the lemon that was the V4 (Phison)

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