Toshiba announces 96-layer QLC 3D NAND chips to boost SSD capacities

By Shawn Knight · 12 replies
Jul 20, 2018
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  1. Toshiba recently announced the development of a prototype flash memory chip that boosts single-chip memory capacity to the industry’s highest level.

    The 96-layer BiCS 3D NAND chips feature four bits per cell (quad level cell, or QLC). By pushing the bit count for data per memory cell from three to four, Toshiba’s new NAND achieves a maximum capacity of 1.33 terabits for a single chip. A typical 16-die stacked architecture in a single package would have a capacity of 2.66 terabytes, opening the door for large-capacity SSDs in the not-too-distant future.

    Scott Nelson, senior vice president of TMA’s memory business unit, said they were among the first in the industry to envision and prepare for the successful migration of SLC technology to MLC, from MLC to TLC and now, from TLC to QLC. It has made increasingly dense packaging options available, he said, adding that QLC will have a game-changing impact across many different markets.

    Toshiba said samples will begin shipping to SSD and SSD controller vendors in early September with mass production expected to begin in 2019. Western Digital, a partner of Toshiba, said in a separate release that it is now sampling the new NAND and plans to ship consumer products running the chips under the SanDisk brand later this year.

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  2. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Maniac Posts: 283   +179

    Is this still for the 2.5" inch size?

    If they had done this in the standard 3.5" size, we could have had this years ago... Anyone know why they are not building them in 3.5"?
  3. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,783   +1,905

    Size isn't an issue for an SSD. There is no point in making a 2TB 3.5" SSD because they fit in the 2.5" form factor just fine. Increasing the size of the SSD won't help anything because in order to fill it, the cost would still be the same as a 2.5" version. Maybe even a little more because the cost of the enclosure would go up.
    Darth Shiv likes this.
  4. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 10,287   +4,189

    "SSDs are a dime a dozen these days."

    That will be my opinion the day SSD's prices are equivalent to platter's, and not before.
    DaveBG and madboyv1 like this.
  5. Lounds

    Lounds TS Booster Posts: 84   +41

    Can anyone calculate what that is in GB's per chip?
  6. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,509   +405

    I'm not sure but the quoted post might have been suggesting that manufacturers could have been making 3.5" SSDs that could use the extra volume to cram more chips onto a larger PCB, or even two boards in a single enclosure and link them together.

    But that's just my guess.
    ShagnWagn likes this.
  7. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,783   +1,905

    Zero point in that. It would cost the same or more than 2.5" drives. You'd end up with a drive that takes up more physical space and costs more at the same capacity. Like I said, volume isn't the issue for SSDs. You can fit a ton of chips in a small space.
  8. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,509   +405

    Well I know that, I've opened up SSDs before, some with large chunks of empty PCB real estate, and/or PCBs that only take half of the space of the SSD enclosure. But if money was no concern I imagine there would be nothing stopping a manufacturer from putting as memory chips as the controller allows (if there is such a limit) into whatever enclosure they want, regardless if it made sense. As in making "large-capacity SSDs". I think that was he was after.

    This actually did happen "recently" when Seagate made a 60TB drive in the 3.5" form factor in 2016, but afaik it never went on sale, unlike the 15TB/30TB drives samsung made which are in the 2.5" form factor. This new QLC will enable manufactures to continue using the 2.5" form factor and even m.2 for more and more storage dense drives, which I'm totally fine with. *thumbs up*
  9. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,783   +1,905

    Oh yeah, they could make massive drives in the 3.5" form factor if they wanted to if cost wasn't a factor.

    As you mentioned though, the controller will be the bottleneck. You would either have to partition multiple smaller drives together or develop a controller capable of handling an SSD of that size.
  10. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 10,287   +4,189

    "Toshiba’s new NAND achieves a maximum capacity of 1.33 terabits for a single chip."

    eight bits per byte
    one terabyte equals 1000 gigabytes
    labeling is not in binary so we don't multiply/divide by 1024

    1.33 terabits max per chip would dictate 166 gigabytes per chip.
  11. pcnthuziast

    pcnthuziast TS Guru Posts: 372   +30

    I'll be happy enough when SSD costs are around $100 per TB.
    Boilerhog146 and Evernessince like this.
  12. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,783   +1,905

    Once that hit that I'm only buying SSDs. 2-3 hard drives will fail in a single SSD lifetime so it makes long term financial sense.
    madboyv1 and cliffordcooley like this.
  13. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 608   +211

    I can see 3.5 " drives are good for the desktop and server,while 2.5 " can fit the Desktop,the server,the laptop, the NUC ,Tablets and many other devices that require storage.the ssd is quite thin with out a housing..

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