Micron Gets into NAND Flash Business with SATA 3.0 SSDs

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-12-03

Micron Technology has built its longstanding reputation on dynamic RAM products. Now it's moving into the NAND flash business, and with a bit of panache.

Micron on Dec. 3 unveiled four new solid-state drives-the first to use the SATA 3.0 standard and its 6G-bps throughput-that it claims surpass SSDs from current industry leader Intel as the fastest available for notebook and desktop PCs.

The new 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch RealSSD C300 flash drives come in 128GB and 256GB capacities. But the key is throughput; they offer about 50 percent higher data transfer speeds than today's best consumer drives, Dean Klein, Micron's vice president of memory system development, told eWEEK.

"By any benchmark, this [the C300] is the fastest on 6G-bps SATA [Serial ATA], and it's also the fastest on 3G-bps SATA. Even on a computer without a 6G-bit port, it's impressive," Klein said.

"Intel had set the bar, now we have reset it," he said.

The C300, in development for about two years, uses the ONFI (Open NAND Flash Interface) 2.1 specification, which enables synchronous read speeds of up to 355MB per second and synchronous write speeds of up to 215MB per second, Klein said. Most hard disk drives and all current SSDs now use the SATA 2.0 spec and 3G-bps interface.

The new ONFI specification enables a significant increase in data transfer speed per channel-from 40 megatransfers per second in the older asynchronous SATA mode to 166MT to 200MT per second in the new synchronous mode. An MT represents 1 million data transfers per second.

The new Micron C300s are eight-channel drives, Klein said.

"The performance of both the reads and writes are improved significantly, because the time it takes to get the data to the NAND and off the channel to do something is shortened," he said.

Micron also sells the RealSSD P200 series enterprise SSDs, which feature SLC (single-level cell) memory.

The new SSDs are shipping in limited amounts now but will enter full production in the first quarter of 2010 containing Micron's 34-nanometer multilevel cell NAND flash, which is pre-optimized for increased capacity, Klein said.

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