Feeds

SanDisk flash holds secret flash sauce till after Christmas

Makes 3-bit MLC SSDs feasible

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

SanDisk is soon to announce new technology needed for its solid state drives to take on hard disk drive storage.

SSDs are appearing in netbooks and notebooks and in enterprise storage arrays where they provide accelerated I/O, either as a separate tier of flash storage or as a flash cache accelerating the array controller's operations. But the appeal of flash SSD technology is limited because today's NAND chips don't have enough capacity, making them expensive. Writes take too long, being slower than reads, particularly random writes, and the write cycle endurance is too short with the flash wearing out after a set number of write cycles.

SanDisk thinks it can solve all three problems. By adding bits to a NAND cell it can increase capacity with 2-bit multi-level cell (2x MLC) technology here and higher-capacity 3- and 4-bit MLC coming. It has also come up with its Extreme Flash File System (ExtremeFFS) to accelerate random write speed by up to 100 times and so be much closer to sequential write speed.

But it is not enough. SanDisk's Senior Director of Marketing, Don Barnetson, revealed this at a Tokyo press conference on 27th November, saying: "We need one more step of improvement besides ExtremeFFS." He didn't say what that was but he did say: "Please wait a little while for our announcement ... We are preparing a technology to solve these issues." That sounds pretty confident and senior directors of marketing don't tease us so unless something is real and pretty close.

Why is it needed? An exacerbating factor is that NAND chip size is shrinking at the same time as cell bit count is rising; a hard trick to pull off. SanDisk 2-bit MLC flash is being made now with a 43nm process while 3-bit MLC chips have been made with a 56nm one. SanDisk is introducing its 3-bit and 4-bit MLC 43nm chip technology now, at the end of 2008, with an even smaller sub-40nm process coming into play towards the end of 2009. The 3x MLC 34nm chips have 32 Gbit capacities with the 4x ones having 64Gbit capacities.

Increase the cell bit count and capacity per chip shoots up. Shrink the die size and capacity per wafer goes up. Costs goes down in both cases. That's what SanDisk wants, what it needs, but customers aren't going to buy the SSDs unless performance is overall way better than hard drives.

The word is that 3x MLC NAND has lower rewrite performance than 2x MLC. Presumably 4x would be worse again. That's what the new technology is needed for, to make 3- and 4-bit MLC flash acceptable in the performance stakes.

We hear that SanDisk will announce its new secret flash sauce at CES in Las Vegas, January 7-8, next year. The gambling casino capital of America seems exactly the right place to make an announcement about big chips and stake your place at the HDD replacement table. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
DEATH by COMMENTS: WordPress XSS vuln is BIGGEST for YEARS
Trio of XSS turns attackers into admins
Cloud unicorns are extinct so DiData cloud mess was YOUR fault
Applications need to be built to handle TITSUP incidents
BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?
Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.