Memory giant Micron started sampling its first 16-nm NAND nearly two years ago. Those chips have a two-bit MLC configuration, and they've now been joined by a three-bit TLC variant built on the same process node. The TLC version has the same 16GB capacity as its MLC forebear, but thanks to its higher bit density, the resulting die occupies 28% less area.
Now, this isn't Micron's first TLC rodeo; the firm has produced similar chips on other nodes. Those chips mostly found their way into memory cards and USB drives, but this time around, Micron is also targeting consumer-grade SSDs.
"Multiple" partners are working on SSDs using the new TLC chips. The first examples are expected in the fall, and one of them could come from Seagate. The press release quotes Seagate SSD VP Brett Pemble as saying "our new SF3500 client SSD controller is intended to create a compelling platform for using this latest Micron technology in both OEM and our own PCIe and SATA SSDs."
Micron plans to release its own TLC SSD in the fall, as well. That drive will likely be geared toward system builders and big PC makers, and if history is any indication, it will eventually be joined by a consumer-oriented counterpart sold under the company's Crucial banner.
Unfortunately, there's no word on how the pricing will compare to current MLC drives—or how many write cycles the TLC chips can endure. I hope the resulting SSDs at least avoid the problems that have plagued some of Samsung's TLC-based drives.