Samsung Increases 64-Layer V-NAND Production

Going into Computex 2017, we reported that Samsung would begin producing 64-layer V-NAND for storage devices in the very near future. Today the company released a statement to say the production lines are moving and new products are on the horizon.

The new 64-layer die features a capacity of 256Gb, the same as the 48-layer flash it replaces. The new die takes up less space on the wafer and allows Samsung to increase the bit output. Samsung expects 64-layer die to cover more than 50% of its monthly NAND flash production by the end of the year.

“Following a long commitment to innovative technology, we will continuously push the limits of generations of industry-first V-NAND production, in moving the industry closer to the advent of the terabit V-NAND era,” said Kye Hyun Kyung, Executive Vice President of the Flash Product and Technology team, Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. “We will keep developing next-generation V-NAND products in sync with the global IT industry so that we can contribute to the timeliest launches of new systems and services, in bringing a higher level of satisfaction to consumers.”

It shouldn't surprise anyone that 4th generation V-NAND is the fastest NAND of all flash memory available today. Samsung says the new technology is capable of up to 1Gbps and has the shortest program time, 500 microseconds, among NAND flash. That's close to four times faster than the typical 10-nanometer class planar NAND and 1.5 times faster than Samsung's 48-layer V-NAND technology. Samsung expects a 30% productivity gain compared to the previous generation technology.

Samsung also expects a 30% gain in energy efficiency. The new 64-layer die uses an input voltage of 2.5V. That's down 30% from the previous generation, which used 3.3V. Samsung also claims the new die increases reliability by 20% from material changes to the inner walls of the charge trap technology.

The press release has an interesting line that contradicts other NAND flash manufactures focused on race to the bottom products.

Samsung expects that the industry will now focus more on the high performance and reliability of memory storage, rather than immerse itself in a chip scaling race.

That's a welcome statement from the flash industry leader. We were worried about the future of high-performance SSDs after hearing from inside sources with experience testing Micron and Toshiba's new 64-layer memory technologies that will only come to consumer products in 3-bit per cell form.

Samsung plans to introduce new embedded UFS memory (tablets, cell phones), branded SSDs, and external memory cards with 64-layer technology in the second half of the year.

Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.
  • dudmont
    I'm wondering if you could add some more info/thoughts, in regards to your article/post lastweek about spinning disks and mlc nand SSDs, as it pertains to Samsung and it's flash. More specifically, whether you think Samsung SSDs, don't fall into the same performance concerns that you discussed.
  • PC-Cobbler
    You're not the only one worried about the future of high-performance SSDs. I won't buy TLC, let alone QLC. Samsung will garner all of the business, both consumer and enterprise, for improved performance and reliability, while Intel, Micron, SK hynix, Toshiba, WDC, and the rest can compete for the bottom feeders.
  • CRamseyer
    I'm not too concerned with Samsung. 3rd Gen V-NAND sits with the other fabs MLC. The new 4th Gen is even faster (as we talked about in this piece). Samsung knows how to handle their business and understands the performance market.

    In contrast look at what we've received from Crucial, Intel, Sk hynix and Toshiba/OCZ over the last couple of years. Other than the RD400 and SSD 750 Series everything else was mainstream at best. Both of those products used MLC and for the most part that's gone going forward.

    Other high-performance MLC products like the MyDigitalSSD BPX (and other Phison E7-based products) used Toshiba planar MLC. That, too, will go away fairly quickly. The E7 isn't compatible with Toshiba BiCS FLASH. E8 is but only uses a PCIe 3.0 x2 connection to the host but is one of the very few quad-core flash processors left.

    Marvell has the 88SS1094 controller but is only proven with Toshiba planar MLC. I've tested it with planar TLC but I wouldn't call it high performance (review coming soon).

    What we're really left with is Samsung's current and next gen products and Optane SSD. I expect both of those to remain expensive even when the other companies start to drop retail prices as we come out of the shortage. The other option is Optane Memory with a HDD. That article will be up shortly. We've had a lot more time to experiment with Optane Memory and it's much better than I first thought.
  • dudmont
    19820372 said:
    You're not the only one worried about the future of high-performance SSDs. I won't buy TLC, let alone QLC. Samsung will garner all of the business, both consumer and enterprise, for improved performance and reliability, while Intel, Micron, SK hynix, Toshiba, WDC, and the rest can compete for the bottom feeders.

    That's what it looks like. Would be nice if one of the controller designer/manufacturers would produce a really topflight performance oriented piece to give some competition. I use almost exclusively Samsung SSDs, but without someone pushing, incentive to improve doesn't exist(look at Intel v AMD for the last 7-8 years, until Ryzen).
    Ram, thanks for replying.
    Looks like we can have PCIE M.2s all we want, but that doesn't guarantee performance, even with PCIE 4 and 5 coming out in the not too distant future.
  • Rookie_MIB
    I'm just wanting to see some of the pricing come down to reasonable levels. For a vast majority of the users, they want better reliability than spinny disks (already a given due to fewer moving parts), better speed (again, easy even for the slower SSD), and better capacity (which is still needing work).

    Just give me a 2.5" drive, 3-4TB capacity, decent controller and speeds (300-400MB R & W) at a $200-250 price range and they'll fly off the shelves. That would be ideal for rebuilding large NAS systems with more reliable flash.
  • mavikt
    I'm not sure I got all the pieces together...
    The 48 layer is 3rd gen and this new 64 layer is 4th gen?
    And they are all MLC?

    I got an 850 NVMe PRO last fall just before the 860 announcement (I was searching Internet for 860 news but found none).
    Shortly after I bought the 850, the 860 was announces, but I was happy still happy believing the 850 PRO was the last MLC.
    But that was not the case then? Samsung rock on with MLC!? (I won't be unhappy if so! :-D)
  • IndignantSkeptic
    Why can I not delete this?!
  • valeman2012
    19820003 said:
    Samsung ramps up 64-layer V-NAND flash production and prepares new memory products for the second half of 2017.

    Samsung Increases 64-Layer V-NAND Production : Read more

    A Safety Question - When they decided to release these, are they have some protection to prevent the SSD from exploding.
  • CRamseyer
    It's 32GB per die. There are a number of due (up to 16) per package and a handful of packages per SSD. The performance comes from reading and writing to several at a time.

    What the big die from Micron (384Gbit) taught us is that without high capacity drives the performance is awful. Micron's 2nd gen TLC goes back to 256Gbit per die. I suspect they will back off from delivering 10TB consumer SSDs in the "near future". It was something that was said during the 1st gen 3D announcement.

    We expected 2nd Gen IMFT 3D to double die density, 512Gbit for MLC and 768Gbit for TLC. It was more than an expectation, we were told as much from someone inside at the start of Gen 1. The block and page sizes would have increased and that could nearly double the latency on the erase cycle. You can see where that would be an issue after the reviews of products with 384Gbit die.

    I'd have to say there is a reason why every other company went with charge trap technology rather than floating gates. It's been fun listening to engineers tell us about the problem every since IMFT announced floating gate 3D. Sk hynix started out developing floating gate 3D and scrapped it for charge trap tech.

    BiCS 3 is the odd man out that we don't know too much about. We tested some late BiCS 2 flash some time ago and the performance wasn't that great. I've heard endurance was a an issue, too. I had a conversation about BiCS 3 the other day and was told to expect quite a bit more from it.

    Sadly WD is going to keep Toshiba in court of the sale. It's kind of like a child throwing a temper tantrum in the store for not getting a new toy a week before Xmas. There was supposed to be an announcement in Japan yesterday and I stayed up all morning for it. The time came and went. I figured it would be right after the Nikkei closed, around 5AM my time. That was a waste. WD files an injunction in a CA court.

    Most Japanese analysts expected Broadcom to win that bid. That is an interesting play because Broadcom is the front name now for Avago. Avago bought up nearly every tech company with a price tag over the last couple of years. In that group is LSI, SandForce (part of which was sold to Seagate), PLX, Brocade, the list goes on and on. Avago still makes controllers behind the scenes, see the recent Intel Broadcom SSD announcement that says nothing while saying everything. That relationship dates back to the LSI and early Intel SSD days. Imagine Broadcom with some of the best controllers and a flash fab to boot.

    My enthusiasm goes away if WD gets full control of the fabs. What a lovely TLC-based Black Series SSD you have there. It's kind of like a Fiero. It looks fast but in the end you will just want to burn it down.

    I really need to make a separate account to say some of this stuff. :)
  • Lucky_SLS
    ^ waiting for the Optane review for a long time :)