Just two months after it started the mass production of its 238-layer 4D NAND flash memory (announce at Flash Memory Summit 2022), SK Hynix has demoed the first NAND memory with more than 300 layers. At 321-layer, the 1Tb part is twice the size of the 238-layer product and - according to SK Hynix - boosts a 59% improvement in “productivity”.
It is unclear what Hynix refers to but one can expect that storage density has doubled (i.e. 1Tb to fit where 512Gb), quite a feat for a part that is still a TLC (triple level cell) rather than a QLC (quad level cell) or even PLC (penta level cell).
What is abundantly clear though is that you can expect mass production for this part to start around June 2024 with products based on this launched end of 2024, beginning of 2025. 238-layer products have yet to be unveiled but expect a flurry of internal and external SSD to appear before the end of the year.
The SK Hynix Platinum P41 (PC801) is the only mainstream SSD based on the company’s 176-layer chip, launched in 2020. Other rivals like Samsung (236 layers), Micron (232 layers), Kioxia/Western Digital (218 layers) and Yangtze (232 layers) have also upped the ante recently but none have matched the aggressiveness of SK Hynix.
The fact that it is a TLC part means that one can expect it to go in an enterprise SSD (as well as consumer SSD). Hynix has a 15.36TB SSD, the PE8111, that uses the 4D V5 TLC NAND (a 128-layer, 1Tb TLC NAND) and is due an update.
While a move to the newest 321-layer NAND chip will not increase capacity to 100TB, moving to the new E1.S ruler format will almost certainly. Solidigm’s D5-P5336, the world’s biggest PCIe SSD, has a capacity of 61.44TB and uses 192-layer QLC NAND components.
It’s not a stretch of the imagination to envision that SK Hynix can deliver a 102.72TB SSD in 2024 but one that end users won’t be able to use in their desktop PC (let alone a workstation PC). It will be one for enterprises and hyperscalers.
One thing for sure though, TLC means that these parts are geared towards endurance and performance, not value-for-money. Will SK Hynix release more QLC parts aimed at HDD-replacement SSD? Stay tuned!
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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.