Before you get too excited, that wasn’t a typo in the title. It’s really gigabits, not gigabytes. That means 8 bits for every byte, meaning that a 256 Gb (gigabit) NAND chip equates to a 32 GB (gigabyte) capacity. But now before you go belittling Samsung‘s announcement because of the numbers, what the consumer electronics company came up with is still a notable achievement. In practice, Samsung’s new storage chips can double the capacity of existing SSD drives without doubling the size, which is definitely a huge win.
Samsung was able to achieve this doubling game by utilizing two of its biggest storage manufacturing technologies. 3D V-NAND stacks memory cells vertically as well as laterally, allowing Samsung to cram in more cells in a compact space. On the other hand, its 3-bit multi-level-cell arrays extend the more common 2-bit cell structure in most NAND chips, allowing each cell to contain 3 bits (ones and zeros) instead of just two. In 2014, Samsung boasted an 3-bit MLC that reached 38 layers and now it is announcing the first V-NAND to sport 48 layers of 3-bit MLCs.
This new 3D V-NAND flash memory holds 85.3 billion cells, each of which can hold 3 bits of data. In short, that’s 256 billion bits or, in other words, 256 gigabits. That’s double the capacity of the previous 128 Gb NAND that had 38 layers of 3-bit MLC. What this means in practice is that 32 GB (yes, gigabytes) can be stored in a single die the same size as before, potentially doubling the storage capacity of current SSDs in the market.
Samsung also claims that the new 48-layer V-NANDs actually consume 30 percent less power than the previous generation with 32 layers, at least when storing the same amount of data. Considering it can store double that amount, there might be more power consumption when that marked is reached.
The Korean manufacturer will be producing these 3rd generation 48-layer 3-bit MLC V-NANDs for the remainder of the year, with a goal of increasing capacities of terabyte-level SSDs. Although this advancement will eventually also benefit consumers, Samsung has its eyes primarily on the enterprise and data storage markets.