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Poor quality controllers to blame, says Samsung

DailyTech reported several days ago that SSD manufacturers have been having problems with Samsung's latest generation of 32nm NAND flash. The new chips have slow write speeds, thus making them unsuitable for use in SSDs since that is one of the major advantages that the new drives have over conventional hard drives. 

We have received a reply from Samsung confirming the issue, stating that "for quality SSDs, every NAND process geometry upgrade requires a matching upgraded controller.  Should (Samsung's) 30nm-class NAND be used with a conventional controller of insufficient quality, performance slowdowns are indeed possible".

Flash memory stores information in arrays of memory cells made from floating-gate transistors. As these transistors scale to smaller process geometries, it becomes harder for electrons to flow. This sometimes causes errors in writing to memory cells which must be corrected through ECC (Error Correcting Code). ECC is typically handled on the flash controller, which may be overloaded by excessive write errors if it is not sufficiently powerful enough. This is the most likely scenario for what is happening.

Companies we spoke with confirmed similar problems with 32nm flash from Toshiba that had been overcome. Intel is using 34nm flash from IMFT that was delayed from mass production for six months, possibly due to a similar problem as well.

Most of the SSD manufacturers we spoke with had paired Samsung's flash with Indilinx's Barefoot flash controller. There are several iterations of the Barefoot controller out there for different SSDs, and no doubt Indilinx is working on the problem. However, it might take a while, and sharp price drops on SSDs are unlikely for several months.

Meanwhile, Samsung is currently in the process of completing a new flash controller revision for their own line of SSDs, and have not released any SSDs of their own using the new flash memory. Samsung states: "We spend many months developing and then fine-tuning the controller and firmware technology for our SSDs, working very closely with most of the major PC OEMs".



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RE: IMFT Delay
By Jansen (blog) on 10/2/2009 12:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
Thursday, May 29, 2008

http://www.imftech.com/news/release_29may08.html

Based on the 34nm architecture, Intel and Micron also plan to introduce lower density multi-level cell products including single-level cell products, by the end of this calendar year.

There's more, including phone conversations I had, but I trust this is enough.


RE: IMFT Delay
By TomZ on 10/2/2009 12:28:39 PM , Rating: 2
How does that press release prove there was a delay, or that it had anything to do with controller issues as you implied in the article?


RE: IMFT Delay
By MatthiasF on 10/2/2009 1:41:59 PM , Rating: 5
He was an actual journalist and asked questions to Samsung and it's partners, finding out something that no one else has reported about openly?

It is possible, you know. Every source article on the Internet starts somewhere.


RE: IMFT Delay
By surt on 10/3/2009 11:46:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Every source article on the Internet starts somewhere.


Yes, usually in someone's imagination.


RE: IMFT Delay
By SAnderson on 10/2/2009 3:38:40 PM , Rating: 2
That was a press release at which point customer samples were being sent out. At this point it's not in full production and not qualified to be sold yet, especially to a top tier customer that Intel probably is. Months go by before it does into full production, its the way the semiconductor industry works. Full production dates of the 34nm chips in fact do line up with the time frame mentioned in the IMFT press release. I repeat, there was no manufacturing delay.


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