Print 27 comment(s) - last by MadAd.. on Jan 7 at 3:09 PM

Samsung inches closer to making SSDs more mainstream

When it comes to storage technology on computers, hard drive technology has advanced the slowest as far as performance is concerned. Companies like Samsung are looking to Flash Solid State Disks (SSDs) to replace the spinning disk and reduce loading times for applications.

SSDs have the advantage of rapid response times without having to wait for a hard drive to spin up/seek and have drastically reduced power consumption compared to traditional hard drives. SSDs use zero watts when not being accessed, and as little as 200 milliwatts during read/write activities.

Given the lower power requirements, company’s like Sony and Fujitsu are looking to Samsung to provide SSDs for their mobile computers. Samsung also uses its SSD drives on the Q30 notebook and Q1 UMPC.

Samsung announced today that it has produced samples of the world's first 16Gb NAND flash memory device built on a 50 nanometer process. The multi-level cell (MLC) design uses a 4KB page size instead of the 2KB used in competing designs. As a result, read speeds are double that of 2KB designs while write speeds are increased by 150%.

The increased storage capacity and faster write speeds will help Samsung reach its goal of producing 128GB SSDs by the first half of 2008.

Samsung will begin mass production its new MLC 16Gb NAND flash memory chips in Q1 2007.

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By dice1111 on 1/3/2007 10:37:31 AM , Rating: 2
Any idea if these SSD's will be in the standard 3.5" HDD format for case mounting and such?
Sounds like they could be a lot smaller, which would mean case mounting trouble, depending on the adapters used.

RE: Format
By SunAngel on 1/3/07, Rating: -1
RE: Format
By StevoLincolnite on 1/3/2007 10:49:46 AM , Rating: 1
Doesn't matter what format they come in, Mods and 3rd party stuff would surely be around, Especially if it became the norm.
I'm waiting for one of these to plug into my laptop. About 16gb would be able to hold all my MP3's and probably another 16Gb for my music videos.

My original drive (100Gb 7200rpm) died in my laptop, And I didn't have the several hundreds of dollars, (Australian) to replace the damn thing, so went with a 40gb. Now I'm looking for alternative storage mediums cheap enough via USB, or Firewire.

RE: Format
By Visual on 1/3/2007 1:36:49 PM , Rating: 2
The chips that the article speaks about have 16 gigabit (Gb), not gigabyte (GB) capacity. So back the enthusiasm down a byte...
Ofcourse they can use eight chips in a device, or even more, thus matching the capacity you were just all hip about. But it will be expencive, way out of the league of magnetic storage for the time being.

RE: Format
By jelifah on 1/3/2007 2:27:14 PM , Rating: 4
You are waiting for SSD hard drives so you can store your 30GB MP3 and music video collection? Are you kidding?

The performance improvement will be seen by installing the OS on one of these. Just slap your music and videos onto any old external hard drive and call it a day.

Besides, if you are hesitating to spend $100 for a 100GB hard drive now then your pocketbook will not be able to handle the cost of the SSD 16 GB hard drive upon initial release. We're talking late 2008, probably 2009, before these are affordable in the mainstream, if even at that time.

RE: Format
By Dactyl on 1/4/2007 3:39:29 AM , Rating: 2
I'm waiting for one of these to plug into my laptop. About 16gb would be able to hold all my MP3's and probably another 16Gb for my music videos.
I want to get an 8-way K8L setup as a server for my music videos so I can stream them to my laptop when I'm at home.

And I'm getting two 8800GTXs in SLI so I can play Half-Life 2 at 3 more FPS.

Then I'm going to get a T1 cable so I can send email to my grandmother once a week.

I'm going to transport all of this in my 6-ton SUV that I bought so I could carry my bicycle into the mountains on weekends.

And then I'm going to shoot myself in the head with a $170,000 matched pair of antique pistols first used during the Revolutionary War by a British general.

My body will then be consumed by a pair of prize-winning show cheetahs raised since birth by Kenyan royalty, hand-fed nothing but mussels for the first eight months of their lives.

RE: Format
By xsilver on 1/4/2007 9:39:33 AM , Rating: 2
lol - for the blissfully ignorant, I have no doubt that all you said is true -- probably except the pistols because lives are too cheap to waste on nice pistols ;)

RE: Format
By MarblesZA on 1/3/2007 10:56:45 AM , Rating: 2
I would assume these would be 2.5" drive like those which are currently available. You can buy 16gig drive from reputable online stores here in the UK under the brand Super Talent. Granted they for the princely sum of £360.

I have been wanting an SSD based box for around 4 years now. I think it will be a while before I can even afford a basic sized model.

RE: Format
By RMSe17 on 1/3/2007 11:35:24 AM , Rating: 2
I dont know if they would do it, but it would be very easy to take a 3.5" drive "wrapper" and shove a bunch of those 16Gb parts into it, and tie in the enable pins to the address pins, to differentiate between modules.. or they could do it by other means.. I am used to address based activation in my projects.

bent pins
By walmartshopper on 1/3/2007 10:55:14 AM , Rating: 5
I don't know if it's just the lighting in the picture or an optical illusion, but it looks like somebody accidentally bent some of the pins on that chip.

RE: bent pins
By dice1111 on 1/3/2007 11:00:04 AM , Rating: 2
I think your right, they do look bent.

RE: bent pins
By ksherman on 1/3/2007 11:53:35 AM , Rating: 2
Thats hilarious.. :-)

Must be all that new-fangle technology

RE: bent pins
By ADDAvenger on 1/3/2007 2:09:12 PM , Rating: 2
They only use that outdated chip packaging in testing samples though, I doubt it has anything to do with the anticipated final product.

Aerial Density?
By techfuzz on 1/3/2007 12:58:50 PM , Rating: 2
Does anyone know what the aerial density of this NAND memory would be? I know it typically isn't measured that way, but it would be somewhat useful for comparison with HDDs.

RE: Aerial Density?
By masher2 on 1/3/2007 1:10:47 PM , Rating: 2
Aereal (not aerial) density is a meaningless metric for solid-state memory, as it doesn't impact performance the way it does for HDD storage.

RE: Aerial Density?
By techfuzz on 1/3/2007 3:30:35 PM , Rating: 4
No actually it is areal (not aereal) density and it can be meaningful for SSD's. Although, I should have said surface density not areal density because it is not radial measurements, but square. You simply find the total square millimeters that a storage device occupies and divide the total number of bits it is capable of storing.

After a bit of research, I found that this new NAND stores data at 0.00625 square microns per bit. (Assuming my math is correct) 16Gb occupies 100,000,000 square microns or 100 square mm. 16Gb / 100 square mm = 160Mb per sq mm. The newest 100GB 1.5" microdrives have densities of ~240Gb per sq mm.

I'll bet NAND devices in 2-3 years start replacing the majority of microdrives in portable devices.

By kuyaglen on 1/3/2007 1:39:04 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I'm wrong but does that mean that with these Samsung chips, a memory stick could have at least 16GB, if it were a 8x2 double sided stick (like my Corsair DDR400 ValueSelect sticks)?

Would this be the type of memory used in SD cards? A solid state camcorder with 30+ gigs sounds very appealing (and expensive)

-Thank you.

RE: 16Gbs...
By ADDAvenger on 1/3/2007 2:16:48 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it's very common for flash chips to be stacked on top of each other. They just go vertical though, it's not doublesided but it's the same general effect.

Actually, there was a DT article not too long ago about some company developing some packaging method that cuts the total height of the packages by thirty percent or something.

RE: 16Gbs...
By ADDAvenger on 1/3/2007 2:23:52 PM , Rating: 2
It's way to early to call this flash a SSD flash...
By fc1204 on 1/4/2007 3:47:01 AM , Rating: 2
A little information on current NAND flash and why consumer SSD is at best in its conception.

This is basically a Samsung Press Release of their 16Gb MLC part. Like CPUs, flash can be packaged differently with multi-die packaging so the capacity of a Flash chip can reach up to 64Gb (quad-die packaging, QDP for short)

Now the price of flash memory can be tracked on dramexchange(dot)com for those of you interested in figuring out the current cost of a SSD- just remember flash is dealt in bits so remember to do the bit/byte conversion.

Now SSD is still an expensive toy, but as the cost of flash is halved every year (kind of like Moore's law) we can imagine having a 32GB SSD for our laptops to run the most used programs to save on time(data seek and access) and power consumption(less HDD use) which means this will help with people needing for over 3 hours of mobile computing without extra batteries and having to shutdown and wait for the reboot.

32GB will cost you about $600 so it's only for enterprise, industrial and other power sensitive applications like data recorder in space modules. But with this flash, we are seeing the density double in 6 months which means Samsung is really pushing hard to lower that $600 to $300 this year and $150 next year meaning more platforms will start to adopt this solution.

Unfortunately, this is a MLC flash which has a 1/10 of the endurance of SLC flash and 1/5 the write performance of the SLC parts. So I am not really sure Samsung is doing this potential market any favor with the release of this part and calling it flash for the SSDs.

Anyways, I would wait for their 4KB/page SLC part to come out which will have better performance and the same 100,000 write cycles per memory block endurance that all current SSD applications use. Then of course there is the cost, the only knock on SLC flash which has a price tag that is about 50% more than MLC flash of the same density.

I am not even going to start on the interface issues (PATA, SATA, PCI-E, CF, SD...) and the SSD controllers...

By dluther on 1/4/2007 8:19:35 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, the controllers are a very interesting aspect that nobody seems to have touched on yet.

As some have pointed out, the chips can be housed in a standard 1.8", 2.5" or even a 3.5" form factor. As someone pointed out, the chips would be arranged in an 8 or 9 chip array to create MBytes out of Mbits, and can be stacked several layers deep, thus yielding different configurations in multiples of 16GB, probably up to 128GB in the notebook configurations.

Now, here's where things get interesting: the interface hardware has to look, act, and respond like a hard drive. In other words, the SATA/EIDE interface will see a "hard drive", and the internal interface will translate sectors into pages, etc... That's going to be a bit of additional expense, but minimal.

By MadAd on 1/7/2007 3:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
Why do we have to stick to the 3.5" form factor anyway?

They look like a chip, why not make banks of it and plug it directly into the motherboard? Its original at least.

These obviously will shrink in size while doubling in capacity as time progreses and I cant help but think that having every increasing amounts of storage that close to the processor could open up new usage patterns.

I mean ideally, we wouldnt have seperate memory, just one storage interface that works at the speed of the processor and while thats a way off yet based on todays announcement, its all a step in the right direction.

What if...
By heffeque on 1/3/2007 10:53:06 AM , Rating: 2
An internal RAID 5 of a lot of those chips inside a single hard disc would be AWESOME!

RE: What if...
By Dactyl on 1/4/2007 3:28:12 AM , Rating: 2
RAID 5 would be a waste. They use something closer to RAID 0.

RAID 5 is only useful for HDDs because HDDs fail so often. Flash almost never fails (it just very slowly dies out). So RAID 5 isn't needed.

They will use more than one of those 2GB flash chips in a single "hard disc" (a single 1.8", 2.5" or 3.5" container, of course (otherwise, a 4GB USB stick would be better!). Using 8 of those chips will give them a 16GB SSD (solid state disc, rather than "hard disc"), which is one of the sizes Samsung will be offering.

By Natfly on 1/3/2007 1:40:15 PM , Rating: 2
It mentions having quicker access times and I don't know much about nand flash memory, but how does the data transfer rate compared to regular HDDs? Transfering files on to/from my thumb drive usually takes forever...

RE: Throughput?
By ADDAvenger on 1/3/2007 2:14:20 PM , Rating: 2
If I remember right, the fastest thumb drives have throughputs of about 30Mb/s read and 20Mb/s write, as compared to 110Mb/s reads for the fastest hard drives.

But a thumb drive and a SSD fill two different roles, I'm sure they'll design and bin these things for higher throughputs than 30Mbps. But even if they aren't that way for a while, you'll likely see an improvement because flash drives' response times are measured in ns, where HDDs' times are measured in ms.

By dagamer34 on 1/3/2007 11:13:51 AM , Rating: 2
Hopefully the chips themselves won't take up too much space so you'll be able to stick something like a 1.8" HDD for other storage purposes.

The only thing that really needs to be on flash anyway is the OS itself and program files. Everything else is too sparsely accessed anyway.

Something like a real hybrid hard-drive would bring prices down a bit until they can make completely flash based HDDs affordable.

Of course, when it gets to the point where we can stream data from some kind of home server (and WiFi is nearly everywhere), then it won't really matter how much HDD space we have anymore! But that's a LONG time away if you live in the US (probably right now in Japan/South Korea though).

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