Samsung to showcase record-smashing 280-layer QLC NAND flash memory chip — expect cheaper, large capacity SSDs but endurance remains an unknown

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Samsung is preparing to introduce a number of new products at the upcoming International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), one of which will be a groundbreaking 280-layer QLC V9 NAND flash memory chip that will pave the way to more affordable, higher-capacity solid-state drives (SSD).

As with all of the other products Samsung and other manufacturers will be showcasing at the conference, details are light on the ground, but we know the South Korean tech giant will be presenting “A 280-Layer 1Tb 4b/cell 3D-NAND Flash Memory with a 28.5Gb/mm2 Areal Density and a 3.2Gb/s High-Speed IO Rate”.

The main takeaway from this is the record-breaking 280 layers and 28.5Gb/mm² density. This means it will surpass the current industry leader, China's Yangtze Memory Technologies (YMTC), which offers a 232-layer NAND at 19.8 Gb/mm². Samsung’s new product is nearly 44% more dense.

Larger SSDs on the horizon

The speed is also noteworthy. When we first heard about Samsung’s next gen V9 QLC NAND it was with a 2.4Gb/s transfer speed, the same as other such products, but in in the presentation, it has been increased to 3.2Gb/s, making it fast enough for use in PCIe SSDs.

However, Samsung's breakthrough isn't without its challenges. Because QLC drives use an SLC buffer, the high-density memory cannot maintain maximum throughput for continuous data transfers. Once this buffer is full, transfer speeds decrease significantly. This generally means that QLC NAND drives prioritize capacity over performance.

The potential capacities of this high-density chip are still unknown, but Tom’s Hardware suggests it could enable M.2 drives of 8TB or (take it with a grain of salt) even beyond. Currently, Samsung's largest consumer drive is 4TB, so that would be a huge step towards revolutionizing consumer SSD capacities.

Samsung is not the only manufacturer showcasing a new NAND product. At the same event, later in the same session, Micron has an entry for “A 1TB Density 3b/Cell 3D-NAND Flash on a 2YY Tier Technology with a 300Mb/s Write Throughput.” 

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Wayne Williams

Wayne Williams is a freelancer writing news for TechRadar Pro. He has been writing about computers, technology, and the web for 30 years. In that time he wrote for most of the UK’s PC magazines, and launched, edited and published a number of them too.