Western Digital Announces Embedded, 96-Layer 3D NAND Drive for Thin Devices

(Image credit: Western Digital)

Western Digital has announced its new embedded flash drive, which uses 96-layer 3D NAND memory. The iNAND MC EU321 can be embedded in all sorts of computing devices, from smartphones to PCs.

Western Digital’s iNAND MC EU321 will be available with capacities between 32GB and 256GB, supports a a UFS 2.1 Gear3 2-lane interface and comes with an in-house controller. The drive features a performance of 800MB/s sequential read speed, 550MB/s sequential write speed, as well as up to 50/52K random read/write IOPS.

The BGA package of the iNAND MC EU321 measures 11.5×13×1mm, which makes it small enough to fit in slim laptops, but also in tablets, smartphones and even VR headsets.

Western Digital says its SmartSLC 5.1 caching technology ensures that the device maintains high performance, even when the drive is almost full. The single-level cell (SLC) buffer can clean up fragmented data when the device is idle. The SmartSLC 5.1, which brings a 10 percent improvement in performance over the previous generation, is optimized for high-resolution photography, fast file transfer and content download.

Going Higher-Density

Western Digital has been using the industry-leading 96-layer 3D NAND memory technology since at least April. The company also introduced its first 96-layer SSD in June. Many SSD makers, including Western Digital, have been using 96-layer SSD technology in conjunction with quad-level cell (QLC) technology to increase densities and lower cost, offering customers more GBs for a lower price.

However, the QLC SSDs should normally last less than MLC, TLC or SLC drives, which is why most companies also take advantage of SLC caches so that the QLC portion on the drive is less utilized and can last longer.

Western Digital didn't say when its embedded storage flash drive will start shipping, but it's expected to arrive soon on the market.

Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.