Micron is sampling new flash dies that can write data many more times than other flash chips before they expire. Micron calls its new products Enterprise NAND and is using a 34nm process to build them. It has a new 16Gbit single-level cell (SLC) die capable of up to 300,000 write cycles. Micron says this is three times more than …
Now if we can get these things up to 500,000 write cycles for 3-bit or better MLC, I'll start my conversion to flash.
Keep it coming, Micron!
@Trevor Pott o_O
I take your point that MLC drives need improvement, but if wear levelling works even half reasonably then 300,000 write endurance is vastly more than anybody is likely to use in 10 years. Consider a bit of mathematics and assume you have a 1TB drive and imagine you have it for 10 years.
That means that a 300,000 write endurance cycle would average out at the following (using one TB = 1,000,000MB)
300,000 x 1,000,000 / (10 x 365.25 x 24 x 3600) = 950MBps
So, in principle, such a 1TB drive could manage to write almost 1GB per second, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for 10 years without wearing out. Now, of course, it's highly unlikely that the wear levelling is 100% effective, but even if it was just one tenth of that, that still allows for a 10 years lifespan at almost 100MBps. That may be an issue for some very large enterprises (but in my experience it won't be provided that write intensive loads can be spread over a wider estate), but no personal user is going to come remotely close to that write access density over a period of 10 years. Of course MLC gives nothing like 300,000 write endurance cycles, but Crucial are confident enough that their 256GB drive is good enough to offer a 5 year guarantee (I have one of those drives, and it transforms the usability of the machine).
That's not to say it's sensible for a medium sized enterprise to put a highly volatile transactional database on an MLC SSD, but the likelyhood is that for almost all personal users a properly engineered MLC drive will outlast the PC it is installed into. After all, hard drives don't last for ever, and I have personal experience of those failing (and I don't get a 5 year guarantee).
Comment from Micron
A Micron spokesperson said: "we are not announcing any Micron products that use SandForce controllers, but are announcing that their controllers work with our Enterprise NAND products."
Comments from Jim Handy
Jim Handy of Objective Analysis sent me these views:-
"Yes, this threatens Samsung's extended endurance products, at a lower cost to manufacture. I would indeed expect Intel to have this product, but they may choose to use it internally rather than to merchandise it."
Thanks for that,
A second Jim Handy point
Jim Handy of Objective Analysis also said this:
"One thing's for certain. Whenever a new process comes out, first people will say that MLC can't be done on it, then they will say that it will never be suitable for enterprise use since the endurance was lower than the prior generation.
Then, the guys who actually make the parts will prove both wrong.
Then a new generation will come out, and the process repeats."
"dies" "live longer"
nice pun, if intentional... :)
Seeking the holy grail of memory...
I like the idea of flash drives because in a way, its starting to blur the distinction between main memory and storage memory, because now its solid state the same as main memory, but some applications could really be helped by making storage memory mapped into the processor memory address range but that can't be done (in a practical way) with Flash. Writing to the same location is not possible with a lot of flash memory designs and even if it was possible it would die quickly if it was treated like it was RAM. The ideal goal is huge amounts of non-volatile main memory.
What we really need is a memory that acts like RAM (so its fast to write to each individual byte and never dies), but is also non-volatile and with the storage densities of (or greater than) Flash. Thats the holy grail of memory, but as far as I know we seem to still be a long way from that point. Does anyone know of any potential new type of memory that could fulfill all these goals?
(The best one I've heard of so far is Memristors, but they seem to suffer from limited numbers of writes).
PCI connectivity and ExpressCard format please...
Please - How hard can it be (to quote Top Gear)
Mr. Mellor...it's 30,000 cycles for MLC, not 300,000
The Register does it again...
The new Micron MLC is not good for 300,000 cycles, but for 30,000 CYCLES.
And that is a 3x improvement over competitive MLC parts, not 6X. Moreover, it's only half as good as what MLC could do in 2005, and it is less than 1/3rd the endurance needed for Enterprise SSD.
So...let's review the flash-hype above:
"One thing's for certain. Whenever a new process comes out, first people will say that MLC can't be done on it, then they will say that it will never be suitable for enterprise use since the endurance was lower than the prior generation. Then, the guys who actually make the parts will prove both wrong....Then a new generation will come out, and the process repeats."
I'd say that assessment needs to change in light of being off by a factor of 10x on the endurance number.
In 2003, SLC was good for a million cycles, and were down to 300,000. At introduction, MLC was capable of 100K cycles, and it dropped to 10K cycles before being "improved" to 30K cycles.
No new Flash from Micron...
As it turns out, there is no breakthrough here, no new technology, no new dies and no new product...
"Kilback said the devices are manufactured using Micron's standard 34-nm process. The company selects wafers coming off the standard production line that it thinks will meet the higher endurance requirements and conducts further testing, he said. There is no difference in terms of design or wafer process, he said."
So...no 300,000 cycle MLC and no NAND Flash technology breakthrough.
I guess the reason Micron can claim that 30,000 cycles is a "6x improvement" is because the average endurance of their remainimg production drops to 5,000 cycles after skimmimg the cream...
Micron now sez 300,000 cycles? Last year they said 1,000,000
Courtesy of EE Times Europe
(12/17/2008 9:02 AM EST)
"Micron Technology Inc. (Boise, Idaho) has said it has worked with Sun Microsystems Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) to develop a single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory technology that extends the lifespan of flash-based storage for enterprise applications and reaches a million write cycles."
Flash SSD...over-promise and under-deliver!!!