August 7, 2018 // 11:05 a.m.
Samsung Electronics has confirmed capacities and performance for its planned family of quad-level cell (QLC) solid-state drives (SSDs), due to launch later this year, but is still silent on the most important part of the equation: price.
Based on the company's 64-layer vertical NAND (V-NAND) stacked design, Samsung's announcement comes with a world's first: the confirmation that the company will release the market's first quad-level cell (QLC) 4TB SSD for consumer use, based on SATA connectivity - and it's doing so using a three-bit controller, oddly.
Designed to increase the capacity available from each NAND chip, QLC is a form of multi-level cell technology which allows four individual bits per memory cell - vastly increasing capacity over the company's existing triple-level cell (TLC) equivalent. The move from TLC to QLC, however, typically brings with it a hit to performance - but Samsung claims that a combination of somehow using a three-bit SSD controller and its proprietary TurboWrite technology avoids that, keeping the performance equal with its TLC-based equivalents.
The use of the widespread SATA standard over newer but still less-common Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) connectivity, though, means that said performance is distinctly mid-tier in the wider market: Samsung's internal testing claims a sequential read speed of 540MB/s and a sequential write speed of 520MB/s, fast enough as SATA drives go but considerably below the gigabyte-per-second-plus of NVMe equivalents.
'Samsung’s new 4-bit SATA SSD will herald a massive move to terabyte-SSDs for consumers,' predicts Samsung's Jaesoo Han of the impending launch. 'As we expand our line-up across consumer segments and to the enterprise, 4-bit terabyte-SSD products will rapidly spread throughout the entire market.'
The new and as-yet unnamed product family will include 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB drives in 2.5" form factor housings, all based on 1Tb V-NAND chips. While mass production has begun, though, Samsung has not yet committed to a release date, nor confirmed pricing for the parts.