We've learned a few things about what to expect from next-generation flash. We didn't include any Toshiba A19 MLC numbers, even though we have the drives here and the tests completed. Toshiba A19 and 15nm perform almost identically, so to keep the charts readable, we didn't include the A19. Right now, Toshiba's A19 MLC costs more than IMFT's 16nm MLC. But on the 15nm node, the tables turn. If both companies keep production numbers up, we'll see a price war that is very good for buyers.
This really couldn't come at a worse time for Micron though. I'm writing this story just one day after Micron's stock dropped nearly 20% after missing sales expectations. It was the first revenue decline in more than two years. Micron blames struggling PC sales, though we think there is more to the story since the company skipped a DRAM lithography generation. Micron is the largest memory manufacturer in the U.S., so it'll pull through with between $3.4 and $3.7 billion in fiscal Q4 revenue.
Micron's 16nm MLC is still a great option for performance SSDs, and through 2016 we'll see a lot of it in client drives. Micron recently developed L95B FortisFlash that allows its partners to program pSLC code that increases endurance and performance.
By the time this article goes live, OCZ will have the Trion 100 with Toshiba A19 TLC for sale online. The pre-launch pricing given to media is decent, though other MLC-based SSDs sell for less.
A19 TLC isn't as bad as some make it out to be. The endurance of the flash is better than we expected, and controllers with advanced BCH and LDPC will give drives decent Total Bytes Written (TBW) specifications. TLC isn't for everyone, but it's good enough for most of us if we're honest about the workloads we subject our SSDs to. TLC will help chip away at the price of SSDs, so the install base of triple-level-cell memory will increase significantly over time.
Phison helped us make this article possible, so we want to talk a bit about S10 development. The controller obviously works with all of the flash we used today, but it is also ready for 15nm TLC. We're still waiting on the random write performance increase firmware, and expect this soon. When it hits, the S10 should be strong enough to compete with Samsung's 850 Pro and SanDisk's Extreme Pro SATA SSDs. Recent price drops on the Kingston HyperX Savage makes the drive more attractive than when we reviewed it.