Toshiba To Start QLC Flash Memory Shipments In September
Toshiba, one of the world’s leading storage chip manufacturers, has completed its prototype of 96-layer QLC flash memory. With the prototype ready, the plan is now to deliver the memory chips to manufacturers of SSDs as well ass SSD controller manufacturers this September, with early products releasing this year. Mass production of the cheaper QLC flash memory would commence early next year.
Current SSDs often use MLC (two bits per cell) or TLC (three bits per cell) memory. The more bits per cell, the cheaper the production costs and the more storage you can physically fit on a chip. QLC (four bits per cell) allows for 1,33 Terabit chips, which would theoretically make small form factor SSDs of multiple terabytes of storage completely possible.
The step to QLC memory will be a significant one, and aside from Toshiba, Samsung has also announced 96-layer memory, although it still uses TLC for their 96-layer chips. The company is planning to make the switch to QLC later, though.
Intel has also announced that they will release QLC memory products for consumer SSDs as soon as this year, and the company has already introduced QLC flash storage for servers in collaboration with Micron earlier this year.
QLC memory is usually slower and also suffers from a shorter lifespan. The performance differences would be compensated by better firmware and controllers, and the shorter lifespan isn’t an issue for normal usage. It is expected, however, that manufacturers will choose to employ extra storage for overprovisioning, which increases lifespan and has a positive effect on performance as well.