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Monday, April 28, 2014
Samsung Begins Mass Production of Enterprise 3-bit NAND SSDs

Samsung Electronics on Monday said today it has begun mass producing the first high-performance, three-bit-NAND-based SSD for servers and data centers.

Installations of the 3-bit MLC (multi-level-cell) NAND SSDs, initially in large-scale data centers, are expected to begin later this quarter.

"Following the last year's introduction of 3-bit NAND-based SSDs for PC markets, our new 3-bit SSD for data centers will help considerably in expanding the market base for SSDs," said Young-Hyun Jun, executive vice president, memory sales and marketing, Samsung Electronics. "We expect SSD market growth will gain momentum as this new SSD delivers significant improvements in data center investment efficiency, leading to full-fledged commercialization of SSDs in IT systems later this year."

The new PM853T SSD, available in densities of 240GB, 480GB and 960GB, offers high levels of random IOPS (inputs/output per second) performance and quality of service (QoS), both essential for data center and cloud server applications. Samsung expects the adoption of 3-bit SSDs in data centers to advance in replacing the 2-bit SSD market.

The basic advantage of 3-bit MLC is a lower cost per bit. According to Samsung, the PM853T delivers a 30 percent increase in manufacturing efficiency compared to SSDs that use 2-bit NAND flash components.

Utilizing Samsung's 10 nanometer (nm)-class 3-bit NAND flash components and advanced controller technology, the new drive features a sequential read speed of 530 megabytes per second (MB/s), while writing sequentially at 420MB/s. It also will read data randomly at 90,000 IOPS and handle sustained random writes at 14,000 IOPS.

A 3-bit cell requires 8 levels of stored charge per quantum well site. With small cell sizes, the well can only hold approximately 1,000 electrons, which means the signal processing and error correction has to be very good to reliably read data.

With an expected lifespan of almost 1,000 writes, a server SSD has to be seriously over-provisioned so it can replace failed blocks. So that over-provisioning makes 3-bit MLC less economical than you might expect.

Samsung did not clarify the total write capacity of the new SSDs, so SSD durability is an open question.

Samsung first used the 3-bit NAND in its consumer-oriented 840 EVO SSDs in 2012.

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