In the consumer SSD space, the biggest obstacle for mass adoption is price. In order to get lower prices, the manufacturers have to be able to build SSDs with higher data densities, which is exactly what Samsung is doing. The company announced that it has started mass production of its 3D V-NAND flash with 3 bits per cell.
"With the addition of a whole new line of high density SSDs that is both performance- and value-driven, we believe the 3-bit V-NAND will accelerate the transition of data storage devices from hard disk drives to SSDs," said Jaesoo Han, Senior VP of Memory Sales & Marketing at Samsung.
Samsung's 3D V-NAND is essentially stacking multiple layers of memory on top of each other, expanding the data into a third dimension. Because of this, Samsung doesn't need to use a very small lithographic process, as stacking the memory allows for much higher data densities. The smaller the lithographic process, the lower the durability, which is what makes 3D V-NAND so attractive: higher data densities despite the use of a larger, more durable lithographic process.
Samsung's 850 Pro SSD that was released last summer comes with the technology, which gave it an edge in performance and durability. It is so durable, in fact, that Samsung ships them with a 10-year warranty.
However, those SSDs came with 2 bits per cell. The new flash that Samsung has put into production combines the 3D V-NAND technology (which is stacked to 32 vertical layers) with a 3-bits per cell distribution. We did see the 3-bits per cell in the 840 EVO SSD, although one of the disadvantages of 3-bits per cell memory is a shorter lifespan.
Combine 3-bits per cell and 32-layer stacked V-NAND, and you can imagine that you get very high data densities, where each chip will have a capacity of 128 Gb (16 GB), although without the immense durability of 2-bits per cell NAND. Therefore, we don't expect to see this flash go straight into a "Pro"-branded SSD, but rather an "Evo" unit. (Hmm, would this be the flash for the 850 Evo SSD we saw in September?)