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Fewer reasons remaining against SSD adoption

Limited write endurance is one of the factors that detractors bring up with regards to solid state drives (SSDs). Most NAND flash chips using multi-level cell (MLC)technology in SSDs have a write endurance of around 10,000 cycles. That isn't as great a problem in SSDs greater than 120GB that use wear-leveling technology, but smaller sized SSDs have less capacity and will reach the upper limit much quicker.

That issue is why almost all SSDs aimed at the corporate and enterprise market use Single Level Cell flash chips, which typically have a write endurance around the 100,000 cycle mark. These include Intel's X25-E, OCZ's Vertex EX and Agility EX series, and Super Talent's MasterDrive RX series.

Micron Technology is one of the key partners in IM Flash Tech along with Intel Corporation. IMFT produces the 34nm NAND flash used in Intel's second generation X25-M SSDs using 2-bit-per-cell MLC chips. Micron and IMFT have been working on improving the write endurance of their NAND chips, and they have now reached a breakthrough.

“By leveraging our mature 34nm NAND process, Micron has developed Enterprise NAND products that support customers’ high-endurance requirements. These products ensure that enterprise organizations have a highly reliable NAND flash solution – be it MLC or SLC – for design into the broader enterprise storage platform,” said Brian Shirley, Vice President of Micron’s memory group.

The company’s new 32Gb MLC Enterprise NAND devices achieve an impressive 30,000 write cycles. They are also introducing a 16Gb SLC Enterprise NAND device that achieves 300,000 write cycles. The new chips also support the ONFI 2.1 synchronous interface, making them easier to integrate into new products.

Both of these new chips are built on the 34nm process which IMFT introduced last year, and can be configured into multi-die, single packages supporting densities of up to 32GB for MLC NAND and 16GB for SLC NAND.

Micron is now sampling its Enterprise NAND products with customers and controller manufacturers, and is expected to enter volume production at the beginning of 2010.





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