Intel and Microns 3D NAND promises SSDs greater than 10TB

Micron logoIntel and Micron are partnering up for new NAND flash chips for SSDs, and the early results look promising. The companies' 3D NAND technology, which stack up 32 layers of floating gate flash cells, enables NAND dies with capacities of up to 256 gigabits (32GB) of data in MLC mode or 384 gigabits (48GB) in TLC mode. Most NAND dies today offer a maximum capacity of 128 gigabits (16GB).

Our article about SSD technology explains the difference between MLC and TLC flash if you don't already know, but the short version is that TLC NAND can store more data in the same amount of space but is generally less durable (though they both can last for a pretty long time).

The increased density offered by these new flash chips will result in SSDs with much larger capacities than today's. Intel and Micron say that standard 2.5-inch SSDs could store up to 10TB of datamodern mainstream drives top out at around 1TB. Smaller "stick of gum"-sized drives suitable for Ultrabooks and mini desktops could go up to 3.5TB. Most of these drives stop at around 512GB today.

Intel and Microns 3D NAND promises SSDs greater than 10TB

These drive capacity sizes may be optimistic, and even if they aren't it will probably be a while before you can hop on Newegg and buy a 10TB SSD for a reasonable price. Still, if you remember our look at Intel's latest NUC and at the M.2 connector that most PCs will be using for their SSDs, you know that denser NAND means larger drives in smaller packages. Today's smallest, 42mm-long M.2 drives can only squeeze in 256GB of flash memory, but these newer cells promise much higher capacities. Go up to an 80mm-long drive, and you might be able to get closer to that 3.5TB capacity.

The 256 gigabit version of the 3D NAND chips is sampling today, while the 384 gigabit version will be sampling "later this spring." Both versions will go into production at the end of the year and should begin appearing in consumer devices in early 2016.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: flash memory, Intel, Micron, SSD

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