SandForce demos SSDs running next generation NAND flash

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Last week Toshiba announced the world’s first solid state drives to use 19nm MLC NAND flash, the THNSNF series. Toshiba’s press release detailed multiple features and specifications, save for which controller was used. Fortunately the 19nm Toggle MLC NAND flash popped up in other Computex coverage, complete with controller information.

The crew from The Tech Report met with SandForce during the show and were shown SSDs with new flash memory from Intel, Micron and Toshiba. The first system utilized Toshiba’s 19nm NAND while the second was equipped with 20nm ONFI NAND from Intel, both using SandForce SF-2000 series controller.

These early prototype drives are reportedly capable of 500MB/s in 128KB sequential reads / writes with 4K random writes around 60,000 IOPS. In actual testing, the demo units scored “pretty close” to advertised numbers.

The gang also spotted a drive using 20nm Micron flash. But because Micron and Intel get their 20nm flash from the same production line through a joint venture called IM Technologies, this unit wasn’t connected to a demo system.

SandForce says that new NAND flash should enter mass production in the very near future with SSDs using the memory not too far behind. The company also told the publication that they will continue to use the SATA interface throughout this year but PCI Express is the future. Controllers for PCI Express solutions will become a reality in 2013.

Smaller NAND will most typically equate to lower prices as more chips can be squeezed onto a single wafer. With any luck, these savings will be passed along to the end-user to further drive down per-gigabyte pricing.

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