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Kioxia’s Hepta-Level Cell NAND Flash Could Deliver The Death Blow To HDDs
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Kioxia’s Hepta-Level Cell NAND Flash Could Deliver The Death Blow To HDDs

by Low Boon ShenApril 5, 2023
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Kioxia’s Hepta-Level Cell NAND Flash Could Deliver The Death Blow To HDDs

While still in research phase – the immense density provided with 7 bits per cell could neutralize the last advantage of mechanical hard drives.

Kioxia's Hepta-Level Cell NAND Flash Could Deliver The Death Blow To HDDs

Image: Kioxia

Kioxia’s researchers has demoed a new storage architecture in the form of Hepta-level cell NAND flash, which contains 7 bits per cell – most SSDs these days either comes with TLC or QLC (triple-layer cell and quad-layer cell, respectively) with TLC SSDs optimized for speeds and QLCs are for cheaper cost per gigabyte. However, should this 7-layer NAND flash proved to be functional, it should theoretically provide nearly double the storage density of QLC drives.

In SSD terms, bits per cell is an indicator of how many voltage levels can be had on a single ‘cell’ – which stores the actual data. Early generation SLC SSDs represent this with 0 and 1, meaning voltage is either high or low, whereas MLC (2 bits per cell) can represent four separate voltages. TLC has 8, while QLC contains 16; this hepta-level cell meanwhile can contain up to 128 levels of voltage, which is difficult to maintain without causing excessive signal noises.

Kioxia's Hepta-Level Cell NAND Flash Could Deliver The Death Blow To HDDs 29

Image: Kioxia

In order to achieve hepta-level density, Kioxia uses a new type of material called single-crystal silicon (as opposed to traditional poly-silicon) cooled down to 77K (-196°C, liquid nitrogen temperatures). As lower temperature creates less signal noise, this allows researchers to fit 7 bits of data in a single cell without causing errors. The company says this storage architecture will be significantly cheaper to produce, and even has solutions for cryogenic cooling.

Of course, this is still in a research phase so it’ll be some years away before high density SSDs make its way into consumer market. Datacenters will likely be the first one to get them should they enter mass production, though given the density and potential cost savings, it’s safe to say the days of mechanical hard drives, however little they may have right now, are numbered.

Source: Tom’s Hardware

Pokdepinion: I certainly won’t miss HDDs – though there definitely will be some heavy performance penalties with density this high. Still, as a direct density replacement, it’ll still be a lot more reliable than spinning drives. 

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Low Boon Shen
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