Micron, Intel Ship Industry’s First Quad-Level Cell NAND SSD

New solid-state disk targets read-intensive cloud workloads, won't be generally available until this fall.

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Micron Technology and Intel, whose partnership ups and downs have been likened to that of human married couples, on May 21 announced production and shipment of the industry’s first 4bits/cell 3D NAND technology, otherwise known as quad-level cell NAND.

Don’t mix up "quad-level" with "quad-core," which describes a segment of Intel processors that have been made for more than 12 years. This is about a solid-state disk of flash memory that is going vertical instead of horizontal.

Using a proven 64-layer structure, the new 4bits/cell NAND technology achieves 1 terabit (Tb) density per die, the world's highest-density flash memory, Intel said.

The companies made the announcement at Micron’s 2018 Analyst and Investor Event in New York  City.

Companies Separating on 3D NAND Flash Development

Micron and Intel announced back in January that they will go their separate ways and discontinue their partnership on NAND Flash development after completing the development of the third-generation of 3D NAND flash. However, the divorce decree isn’t final yet. The two companies are still developing the second generation (64-layer), and the third generation is expected to reach 96-layer.

This means that, for development of products greater than 96-layer, the two will part ways. This decision will not bring significant impact in near term on their businesses in terms of manufacturing process technology improvements and product planning, DRAMeXchange said. They will have more opportunities to seek new partners after parting ways.

In the meantime, the two companies have the quad-level cell technology to continue to develop.

Micron said its 5210 ION SSD provides 33 percent more bit density than triple-level cell (TLC) NAND, addressing segments previously serviced only with hard disk drives (HDDs). The new QLC-based SSDs will be marketed to address the read-intensive yet performance-sensitive cloud storage needs of AI, big data, business intelligence, content delivery and database systems.

Smaller Form Factor

Available in a 2.5-inch form factor, compared to the conventional 3.5-inch HDD, the Micron 5210 ION SSD reduces server sprawl by packing more performance into fewer racks, which allows data centers to save on expensive power and cooling costs.

The new SSD will feature the full enterprise feature set of Micron’s SATA SSDs, the company said.

The Micron 5210 ION SSD is now shipping to strategic enablement partners and customers, with broad market availability expected in the fall of 2018. To meet market needs, the Micron 5210 ION SSD will be available in a 2.5-inch (7mm) form factor in capacities ranging from 1.92TB to 7.68TB, enabling more flash capacity per 2U chassis.

Micron said it plans to offer greater capacities in the future.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he...