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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  • Duraz0rz - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    You'll be waiting for ever, then. I don't think NAND will ever reach price parity with regular mechanical HDDs.
  • jjj - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    By 2021-2022 it should get to 30$ per TB if NAND is still alive but hard to say where HDD prices would be. Prices for HDDs stayed rather flat since the Thai floods ,should be way lower by now but no real competition kept prices high.
    HDDs in PC are about to go away for the most part, then console and other consumer electronics, portable storage next so only high capacity consumer and enterprise will be be left in a few years. It's unavoidable now .In most segments it won't matter that HDDs are cheaper anymore, NAND is getting cheap enough while having a big speed, power and density advantage.
  • grant3 - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    "Prices for HDDs stayed rather flat"

    Wrong, they made a huge jump and then resumed falling in price as they always have. They are now cheaper than they were before the floods. Evidence: http://www.jcmit.com/disk2015.htm

    "Should be way lower by now"

    Do you claim this based on any actual facts? Or merely the human fallacy to expect previous trends to continue indefinitely?

    "but no real competition"

    There IS real competition, but hard drive margins are already pretty low and the market is fully mature. That means there's no incentive to squander money on research & manufacturing on huge improvements to this dead end technology.
  • jjj - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    Yes prices jumped after the flood on shortages, came down fast in the next few quarters as supply caught up and then got stuck on minimal declines so now are just slightly lower.That does mean prices stayed flatish, now vs then.
    Yes i claim on actual facts and unlucky for you i know a lot more than you hope.
    I'm not gonna bother with someone that likely works for a HDD maker but it's very easy to just show margins for every quarter in the years before and after (or just q2 2011 vs q2 2015 up 7-10% for the 2 main players), how margins scale with volumes , calc ASP per segment and show you where it all lands. And then lets factor in the number of heads and platters and see how prices aren't where they could be. So yeah i claim with facts and can bury you in facts but is there is no good reason to waste 30minutes with that when you go all bananas with absurd claims?
    We went from 5 HDD makers to 3 and only one of them tries to gain any share every so often.
    Or lets put it this way, any reader here that's been around for a while , knows that before the floods good HDD deals were at 30$ per TB, and now 4 years later prices aren't much better at 25$ - and that's only now because the PC market has been really poor and some HDD makers got hungry for revenue.-as in Seagate trying to get closer to market expectations. At the same time the platter went from 750GB to 1.2-1.33TB.and that's a 60 to 78% increase. That is coupled with the numbers of platters going from 4 to 5-6, more platters means lower per unit cost. So i won't ask for 10$ per TB deals or even 15$ to prove that prices are fine but don't you dare claim that prices are fine and the market functional.
  • jjj - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    And just for the hell of it lets go back.
    In 2006, 5 years before the floods, the Cuda 7200.10 went 188GB per platter, in 2007 Hitachi went 200GB, in 2008 WD went 320GB , in 2009 WD went 500GB platters and then in 2010 750GB platters. Prices evolved accordingly and then the floods hit, WD bought Hitachi, Seagate bought Samsung and they all hit the breaks. They got no reason to push, they can just maximize profits while the market dies.
  • grant3 - Friday, August 14, 2015 - link

    You claim you can "bury me in facts" but then you confirmed what I originally said: prices have indeed fallen.

    Apparently you are unhappy they are not lower, but out of all the facts you claim to have, but all you talk about his how in the past there was some trend line and you (via normal human nature) believe that alone is sufficient evidence that the trend "should" continue in perpetuity.
  • darkfalz - Wednesday, August 19, 2015 - link

    They're hitting some hard limits the same way chip manufacturers are because the technology is so mature - which is why you're getting helium/SMR etc. now. We're going to have to live without the geometric expansion in speed/storage we've enjoyed, as it's now more linear or even logarithmic. More people also build RAID / NAS systems rather than keeping everything on one or two big disks.
  • sonicmerlin - Friday, August 14, 2015 - link

    Dude look at your own graph. The "small drives" line is at the same level now as it was pre flood.
  • thetuna - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    You're not going to see price parity with HDD's for many years yet.

    SSD space is still over 10x the cost of HDD space.
  • jay401 - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    Well sure, if HDD prices continue to fall. But so long as we get to where we're close to the $0.05/GB HDDs are at today, that'll make 4-8TB drives feasible for the consumer.

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