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They said it wasn't right for biz - but Samsung unveils TLC SSD

Can first 3-level cell flash handle big loads?

Samsung's South Korean headquarters has announced two new 840 SSDs, one of which uses three-level cell (TLC) technology , a first for the industry, and the other a more normal two bits per cell, the 840 Pro.

The 840 Pro is, according to one of several reports a SATA 6Gbit/s interface product, delivering 100,000 random read IOPS and 90,000 random write IOPS. AnandTech says the numbers are 100,000 and 78,000 respectively. Samsung Europe and America haven't announced anything yet; it seems the corporate marketing translation people are not quite as quick on their feet as Samsung's flash products.

The 840 Pro has 64GB, 18GB, 256GB and 512GB capacity points, with the TLC 840 having 120GB, 250GB and 500GB. The 840 uses 21nm toggle-mode NAND, like the 840 Pro, and does 540MB/sec sequentially reading, 330MB/sec sequentially writing, 98,000 random read IOPS and 70,000 random write IOPS. These are darn respectable numbers.

The thing uses an MDX controller, again like the 840 Pro. Samsung apparently claims the 840 isn't that bad at endurance, the traditional TLC bugbear, having, it claims, greater endurance than some MLC SSDs. It's not releasing actual program/erase cycle numbers though – or total PB written over the life of the drive, implying that endurance is not that great.

The 512GB 840 Pro costs $599.99 while the 500GB 840 costs $449.98. Availability is said to be from 15 October. With Samsung having relationships with Fusion-io and Seagate, we might expect TLC flash products to come from them as well. Seagate has said it views TLC NAND as a consumer-grade product and not something for enterprise use. That could be Fusion-io's thinking too.

With Samsung first off the blocks with TLC NAND product it's a racing certainty that Micron and Toshiba – and even Hynix – will follow suit. One of them could announce before the end of the year. Expect the TLC flash floodgates to start opening. ®

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