Last year, Samsung started producing 3D "V-NAND" that stacks layers of flash memory on top of each other. The three-dimensional flash was deployed in a server SSD last summer, but we haven't heard much about it since. Or we hadn't, anyway. Earlier this week, Samsung announced that it has begun producing second-generation V-NAND—and that the 3D flash is coming to high-end PCs.
The second-gen chips have 32 layers, eight more than the originals. They're built using "essentially the same equipment" as the first-gen stuff, but details are otherwise scarce. Samsung hasn't even revealed the density of the new V-NAND. The old chips weighed in at 128Gb (16GB) each, which works out to about 5.3Gb per layer. If the same equipment is being used, the planer density could be similar, just with additional layers. Stacking 32 of the old layers would yield a die with around 171Gb of storage.
Samsung's new V-NAND is coming to PCs in a line of "premium" SSDs with capacities up to 1TB. Those drives have apparently been launched, but I don't see mention of them anywhere outside the V-NAND press release. There's no word on pricing, performance, availability, or even whether the interface is SATA or PCIe. The new drives are, however, claimed to consume 20% less power than typical MLC SSDs. They're supposed to have have double the write endurance, too.
Later this year, the initial batch of consumer-oriented V-NAND SSDs will be joined by a second family of high-end offerings. These drives will have "higher reliability and higher-density," Samsung says, but that's all we know about them right now.
We fired off a series of questions to Samsung yesterday, but we haven't heard back yet. We'll update this story when we have more information on the second-gen V-NAND and the SSDs based on it.
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