When Samsung took the stage at the 2015 Flash Memory Summit, they admittedly didn't deliver any bombshell announcements on the scale of the Intel/Micron 3D XPoint surprise, but they still had a lot to talk about.

We knew that Samsung's third generation of V-NAND/3D NAND was on the way with mass production scheduled for the second half of this year. Samsung has now disclosed that mass production is starting this month, and that it's a 48-layer design with a 256Gb TLC being the first die announced. Samsung's current second-generation 3D NAND is a 32-layer design available as 128Gb TLC or 128Gb MLC.

With mass production imminent, Samsung has ensured that neither SK Hynix nor the Toshiba/SanDisk joint venture will be able to leapfrog them with their respective 48-layer 3D NAND designs, both scheduled for mass production starting in 2016.

Samsung says the new 256Gb TLC will have about 30% lower power consumption than an equivalent capacity of their current 128Gb TLC, and a switch to a dual-plane organization ensures that one 256Gb die will perform at least as well as a pair of the current 128Gb dies. Density is improved by about 40% while production costs only increased slightly, so price per GB will be going down. At FMS, Samsung is pushing the idea that their 3D NAND TLC is ready to replace MLC for most uses, and they're optimistic about scaling up their 3D NAND layer count past 100.

New Samsung 48-Layer TLC SSDs
Drive PM953 PM1633 PM1725
Form Factor NVMe over M.2 22110 and 2.5" 2.5" SAS 12Gb/s NVMe PCIe HHHL card
Capacities 480GB, 960GB, 1.92TB (2.5" only) 480GB, 960GB, 1.92TB, 3.84TB 3.2TB, 6.4TB
Sequential Read ? 1,100 MB/s 5,500 MB/s
Sequential Write ? 1,000 MB/s 1,800 MB/s
4kB Random Read IOPS ? 160k 1,000k
4kB Random Write IOPS ? 18k 120k
Endurance Rating ? ? 5 DWPD (6.4 TB model)

Samsung also shared information about three upcoming drives, all using TLC though not necessarily the new 48-layer parts. The PM1633 Enterprise SAS drive was previewed at CES in January and is intended for read-heavy workloads. A follow-on PM1633a model was mentioned to use the new 48-layer TLC to reach 15.36TB capacity, but we don't have any other information about that update. The PM953 is a enterprise NVMe drive in M.2 or 2.5" form factors, and is the counterpart to the MLC-based SM951. Of particular interest, the M.2 version is using the M.2 22110 form factor (22mm x 110mm, the maximum length for M.2), with Samsung using the extra space to implement power loss protection.

Meanwhile the PM1725 is a fast multi-TB PCIe expansion card that Samsung intends to use to challenge the assumptions about what uses TLC is suited for. Relatively speaking it appears to be intended for workloads that aren't very write-heavy, but it still manages 120k IOPS for writes. That just looks small compared to 1M IOPS for reads and a sequential read speed of 5.5GB/s.

All three drives are intended for OEMs, but the PM953 will probably find its way into the retail channel just like the SM951.

Finally, along with Samsung's new 3D NAND appearing in the afformentioned new drives, it will also be appearing in at least one of their existing drives. The 850 EVO, Samsung's current consumer TLC drive, will apparently be getting an update to use the new 48-layer TLC, though it's not clear if this will be new capacities and/or a wholesale NAND update.

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  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    Many who bought the 840 EVO weren't worried either. But, now, as far as I know, all of the "fixes" for the TLC's weakness involve re-writing the data over and over again to work around the speed degradation.

    This 3D TLC is supposed to be more robust but as it is shrunk that advantage will decrease. How many shrinks can be done before it's equivalent to the TLC in the 840 EVO is a good question.

    Also, this article mentions power savings and density improvements but doesn't mention the drawbacks of NAND shrinkage: increased latency and reduced longevity.
  • extide - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    The scaling of 3d NAND isnt going to be done via shrinks, but adding layers. MAYBE they will shrink it later in the future, but I think we will have some newer/better tech by then, so honestly, I doubt there is much to worry about in this regard.
  • extide - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    Samsung did not shrink their NAND here -- they just added layers, so there is no reduced longevity or increased latency like we would see on a typical node shrink.
  • frenchy_2001 - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    Correct. Latency is even going down due to the higher density.
  • eek2121 - Friday, August 14, 2015 - link

    My 840 EVO is working fine. Thanks. Stop trolling.
  • Gigaplex - Friday, August 14, 2015 - link

    It's not trolling, it's a well documented issue.

  • abhaxus - Friday, August 14, 2015 - link

    I thought the first fix was working fine for my 840 evo until last night when I launched a game I hadn't played in a few months. Incredibly slow. Now I have to image the drive again so I can run the second fix. How the second one actually works (or maybe I don't so I can justify a new drive to my wife)
  • lyeoh - Sunday, August 16, 2015 - link

    I didn't use the first fix - didn't have confidence in it, and looks like I was right not to use it. What I do instead is use diskfresh (by puransoftware) every month or so. If samsung are not lying too badly about the 1000 write cycles, things should be fine. I'm not going to use their 2nd fix either, maybe if I hear good things and no bad things about it a year or two from now ;).
  • sonny73n - Sunday, August 16, 2015 - link

    You really have a foul mouth and no brain. If you're too lazy to read, why don't you run a speed test on your 840 EVO then compare the results to listed specs?
  • jjj - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    Got any interpretation for the 40% density number?
    Assuming same process, 50% more layers, how do they get to 40%? They factor in the logic when they talk density or is it all because of the dual plane,or both...
    I was assuming this is about 85mm2 (without trying to be very precise) while costs are maybe 1.8x vs 2D plus a yield penalty.Even so 3D TLC vs 2D MLC would be plenty cheaper.
    Hynix said they want to get to above 190 layers in 2019. So that would be 48 in 2016-2017 (really high volume) , then double that some one year later and again double in 2019 to 192 layers.
    If prices keep declining 30% + per year for NAND i'm not sure how many HDDs will still ship in PCs by 2017 (even in low end laptop a 128GB eMMC could be bellow 20$) and in 2019 midrange 100$ and up phones should have 128-256GB NAND.

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