FMS 2015: Samsung Adds Layers to its 3D VNAND, Doubling Capacity While Reducing Power Consumption
Samsung recently added 2TB capacity parts to their 850 EVO SATA SSDs, but today’s announcement may double that. Today at Flash Memory Summit, Samsung has announced a new iteration on their 3D VNAND technology.
Cross section of Samsung 32-layer VNAND. (TechInsights)
The announcement is a new TLC 3D VNAND (the type present in the 850 EVO Series). The new parts consist of an updated die with the following improvements:
- 48 layer VNAND – up from 32 layers of the previous generation
- 256Gbit (32GB) capacity – up from 128Gbit (16GB) capacity of 32-layer VNAND
- 30% reduction in power consumption over 32-layer VNAND
Samsung’s new 48-layer VNAND.
I suspected Samsung would go this route in order to compete with the recent announcements from Intel/Micron and SanDisk. Larger die capacities may not be the best thing for keeping performance high in smaller capacity SSDs (a higher number of smaller capacity dies helps there), but it is definitely a good capability to have since higher capacity per die translates to more efficient flash die production.
The Samsung keynote is at noon today (Pacific), and I will update this piece with any photos relevant to the announcement after that keynote.
I just got out of the Samsung keynote. There were some additional slides with data relevant to this post:
This image simply shows the additional vertical stacking, but adds that Samsung has this new flash in production right now.
The new higher capacity dies enable 1.4x greater density per wafer (realize that this does not mean more dies per wafer, as the image incorrectly suggests).
The power consumption improvements (right) were in the press release, however the speed improvements (left) were not. A 2x improvement in per-die speeds means that Samsung should not see a performance hit if they migrate their existing 128Gbit TLC VNAND SSDs over to these new 256Gbit parts. Speaking of which…
Not only is this new VNAND being produced *this month*, Samsung is retrofitting their 850 EVO line with the new parts. Again, we expect no performance delta but will likely retest these new versions just to double check for any outliers.
There was some more great info from the keynote, but that will appear in another post later today.
Samsung Electronics, the world leader in advanced memory technology, announced that it has begun mass producing the industry’s first 256-gigabit (Gb), three-dimensional (3D) Vertical NAND (V-NAND) flash memory based on 48 layers of 3-bit multi-level-cell (MLC) arrays for use in solid state drives (SSDs).
“With the introduction of our 3rd generation V-NAND flash memory to the global market, we can now provide the best advanced memory solutions, with even higher efficiency based on improved performance, power utilization and manufacturing productivity, thereby accelerating growth of the high-performance and the high-density SSD markets,” said Young-Hyun Jun, President of the Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. “By making full use of Samsung V-NAND’s excellent features, we will expand our premium-level business in the enterprise and data center market segments, as well as in the consumer market, while continuing to strengthen our strategic SSD focus.”
Samsung’s new 256Gb 3D V-NAND flash doubles the density of conventional 128Gb NAND flash chips. In addition to enabling 32 gigabytes (256 gigabits) of memory storage on a single die, the new chip will also easily double the capacity of Samsung’s existing SSD line-ups, and provide an ideal solution for multi-terabyte SSDs.
Samsung introduced its 2nd generation V-NAND (32-layer 3-bit MLC V-NAND) chips in August 2014, and launched its 3rd generation V-NAND (48-layer 3-bit MLC V-NAND) chips in just one year, in continuing to lead the 3D memory era.
In the new V-NAND chip, each cell utilizes the same 3D Charge Trap Flash (CTF) structure in which the cell arrays are stacked vertically to form a 48-storied mass that is electrically connected through some 1.8 billion channel holes punching through the arrays thanks to a special etching technology. In total, each chip contains over 85.3 billion cells. They each can store 3 bits of data, resulting 256 billion bits of data, in other words, 256Gb on a chip no larger than the tip of a finger.
A 48-layer 3-bit MLC 256Gb V-NAND flash chip consumes over a 30 percent reduction in power compared to a 32-layer, 3-bit MLC, 128Gb V-NAND chip when storing the same amount of data. During production, the new chip also achieves approximately 40 percent more productivity over its 32-layer predecessor, bringing much enhanced cost competitiveness to the SSD market, while mainly utilizing existing equipment.
Samsung plans to produce 3rd generation V-NAND throughout the remainder of 2015, to enable more accelerated adoption of terabyte-level SSDs. While now introducing SSDs with densities of two terabytes and above for consumers, Samsung also plans to increase its high-density SSD sales for the enterprise and data center storage markets with leading-edge PCIe NVMe and SAS interfaces.