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Green Memory in the News

Hey, Samsung: Why so shy about your 960GB flash drive's endurance?

Apr. 29. 2014
Hey, Samsung: Why so shy about your 960GB flash drive's endurance? TLC SSD dangled over data centre admins – but how many writes can it take?

Samsung has gone and used cheap-to-make triple-level cell NAND chippery to make an SSD for data centre use. Will it catch on?

Triple-level cell (TLC) flash chips mean fabs can extract more flash capacity from a silicon wafer, and so production costs are lower than for two-level cell MLC technology. Samsung says it gets "a 30 per cent increase in manufacturing efficiency compared to SSDs that use 2-bit NAND flash components."

TLC SSDs, at the process node level that Samsung is using, are said to have a raw working life of just 500 full writes; that is, phase/erase cycles. Data centres don't want products that drop dead after 18 months' use at one full drive write a day – not unless the application does so few writes that the working life is up to the five-year level.

Samsung says it's using a 10nm-class process node, meaning less than 20nm and more than 10nm for the cell size geometry. Our understanding is that it is actually 19nm. We're told by Samsung's announcement that the drive is for (cough, cough, cloud) servers and data centres, and usable for social networking, web browsing, and email workloads; read-intensive applications with a low write level.

Young-Hyun Jun, Samsung Electronics' exec veep for memory sales and marketing, was pretty keen on the device's prospects, saying: “We expect SSD market growth will gain momentum as this new SSD delivers significant improvements in data centre investment efficiency, leading to full-fledged commercialisation of SSDs in IT systems later this year.”

The announcement went on to say: "Samsung expects the adoption of 3-bit [per cell] SSDs in data centres to advance rapidly in replacing the 2-bit SSD market."

That, given the slow if not glacial adoption; non-adoption really, of TLC flash by enterprises so far would be an amazing outcome.

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Source: The Register News

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