Intel & Micron's new 3D flash memory could mean cheaper, larger storage for Apple's Macs, iOS device

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2015
Intel and Micron have announced the launch of a new 3D NAND flash technology, one which could substantially improve the amount of data storage possible in Macs, iPhones, iPads, and numerous other devices.




Unlike conventional planar NAND flash memory, 3D NAND is stacked in 32 vertical layers. According to Intel this can potentially triple capacity, for example allowing "gum-stick sized" solid state drives with over 3.5 terabytes of storage space, or conventional 2.5-inch solid state drives (SSDs) that surpass 10 terabytes. Even the SSD in a custom-configured iMac or Mac Pro currently tops out at 1 terabyte.

The technology is also said to have a variety of ancillary benefits, including high speeds, a lower cost per gigabyte, and better endurance. It should also save power by enabling new sleep modes that cut power to inactive NAND die while other die remain in use.

A 256-gigabit multilevel cell (MLC) version of the memory is now being sampled with "select partners," Intel said. A denser 384-gigabit triple-level cell (TLC) product will be sampled later this season. Both forms of memory should be in full-scale production by the fourth quarter of 2015, and matching Intel and Micron SSD lines should be on sale "within the next year."

In Apple's case, the technology could allow the company to completely jettison conventional hard disks in Macs, and all but eliminate storage anxiety with iOS devices. While iPhones and iPads doubled the capacity of their middle and upper tiers last year, the bottom tiers remained stuck at 16 GB, an increasingly tight limit on the amount of apps, photos, videos, and music a person can carry with them.

Toshiba has meanwhile revealed its own 3D flash memory, a 48-layer MLC format using a vertical stacking system called BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling). This can hold 128 gigabits per chip, and sample shipments began on Thursday. Mass production is waiting on a new facility in Japan, however, which is only due to finish construction in the first half of 2016.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    Just let me know when I can get a 3+ TB external SSD at a reasonable price.
  • Reply 2 of 41
    davendaven Posts: 626member
    I guess that I'll hold out on buying that SSD for my mini Mac.
  • Reply 3 of 41
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    daven wrote: »
    I guess that I'll hold out on buying that SSD for my mini Mac.

    As usually happens, this new drive will probably cost a fortune until they face heavy price + performance competition.
  • Reply 4 of 41
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 949member
    As usually happens, this new drive will probably cost a fortune until they face heavy price + performance competition.
    Hopefully it puts downward pricing pressure on the current crop of SSDs. I'm considering an SSD for my old iMac, but I'd rather not spend more on the upgrade than the machine itself is worth.
  • Reply 5 of 41
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    hexclock wrote: »
    Hopefully it puts downward pricing pressure on the current crop of SSDs. I'm considering an SSD for my old iMac, but I'd rather not spend more on the upgrade than the machine itself is worth.

    I'm in the same boat... spend a load of money on a new SSD external or get a new 5K iMac...
  • Reply 6 of 41
    Wonder if it has the same write-cycle limitations as the "traditional".
  • Reply 7 of 41
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,418member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AMusingFool View Post



    Wonder if it has the same write-cycle limitations as the "traditional".

    The article does refer to "better endurance", but doesn't get specific...

  • Reply 8 of 41
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,670member
    hexclock wrote: »
    Hopefully it puts downward pricing pressure on the current crop of SSDs. I'm considering an SSD for my old iMac, but I'd rather not spend more on the upgrade than the machine itself is worth.
    The best possible upgrade imo. You'll experience a dramatic improvement.
  • Reply 8 of 41
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    I'm in the same boat... spend a load of money on a new SSD external or get a new 5K iMac...

     

    external SSDs arent that much. i recently added 256gb via thunderbolt for a few hundred bucks:

     

    http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D4D6LJ4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  • Reply 10 of 41
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,670member
    nolamacguy wrote: »
    external SSDs arent that much. i recently added 256gb via thunderbolt for a few hundred bucks:

    http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D4D6LJ4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    It is more important to have an internal SSD and run your system and apps from that drive. Having to access files of an HDD is not that much of a problem imo.
  • Reply 11 of 41
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by paxman View Post





    It is more important to have an internal SSD and run your system and apps from that drive. Having to access files of an HDD is not that much of a problem imo.

     

    not sure what youre referring to; my post was in response to the comment that external SSDs cost a boatload. they dont; less than an apple watch, in fact.

     

    as for my own use of an external SSD, it's definitely working out for me. i run VMs on it, and they load up and save very quickly.

  • Reply 12 of 41
    isteelersisteelers Posts: 738member
    I thought Samsung was already using 3D in their current crop of 850 Pro SSDs. Is this technology different than that implementation?
  • Reply 13 of 41
    peteopeteo Posts: 395member
    I thought samsung was already using 3-D Nand flash?

    "The world's first 3D Vertical NAND (V-NAND) SSD- the Samsung SSD 850 EVO"

    http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-2-5-Inch-Internal-MZ-75E500B-AM/dp/B00OBRE5UE/
  • Reply 14 of 41
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,670member
    nolamacguy wrote: »
    not sure what youre referring to; my post was in response to the comment that external SSDs cost a boatload. they dont; less than an apple watch, in fact.

    as for my own use of an external SSD, it's definitely working out for me. i run VMs on it, and they load up and save very quickly.
    I think I meant to respond to SpamSandwich but I realize it was a bit of a dumb post. It kinda flew of my fingers - I am sure everybody knows enough about ssd's by now :)
  • Reply 15 of 41
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,185member
    isteelers wrote: »
    I thought Samsung was already using 3D in their current crop of 850 Pro SSDs. Is this technology different than that implementation?
    http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/minisite/Greenmemory/news-event/press-release/detail?contentsSeq=13481&contsClassCd=N
  • Reply 16 of 41
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by peteo View Post



    I thought samsung was already using 3-D Nand flash?



    "The world's first 3D Vertical NAND (V-NAND) SSD- the Samsung SSD 850 EVO"



    http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-2-5-Inch-Internal-MZ-75E500B-AM/dp/B00OBRE5UE/

    Maybe the difference is that Samsung used only a few layers while Intel and Micron are doing 32 layers? I wonder how many layers Samsung has been using. Maybe 8?

  • Reply 17 of 41
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by paxman View Post



    I think I meant to respond to SpamSandwich but I realize it was a bit of a dumb post. It kinda flew of my fingers - I am sure everybody knows enough about ssd's by now image

     

    gotcha. yeah they do make a huge diff...my primary machine at home is a 2011 iMac, w/ the built-in SSD of the day. combined plenty of ram and vram, the thing is still as fast as i need it to be. the only short-coming is it only has 256gb built-in. 

  • Reply 18 of 41
    Is this what they mean by A-NAND-TECH? :lol:
  • Reply 19 of 41
    adrayvenadrayven Posts: 460member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by boredumb View Post

     

    The article does refer to "better endurance", but doesn't get specific...




    Generally speaking, if each cell has the same re-write cycle, then because the SSD is larger (TB vs GB) then you increase the endurance of the drive because you have a larger number of cells to re-write too, spreading out the re-write cycles substantially..

     

    thats why it's always better to buy -up- in SSD, because larger you can go, the better the life span of the SSD. 

  • Reply 20 of 41
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,185member
    cincymac wrote: »
    Maybe the difference is that Samsung used only a few layers while Intel and Micron are doing 32 layers? I wonder how many layers Samsung has been using. Maybe 8?
    From the earlier link:
    "Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has begun mass producing the industry's first three-dimensional (3D) V-NAND flash memory using 32 vertically stacked cell layers, which is its second generation V-NAND offering."
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