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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  • MrSpadge - Friday, August 14, 2015 - link

    Sounds like SSD caching would be for you, then. I bought a 60 GB Agility III a few years ago for to cache my HDD. It's a lot faster and still has ~85% endurance left today. It was 100€, but today the 120 GB drives have hit 60€ and would be a good choice.
  • JimmiG - Friday, August 21, 2015 - link

    SSD caching works better than you'd expect.

    I'm still running a 64 GB OCZ Cache SSD + a regular 640GB mechanical HDD as my OS+applications drive in my main rig. Most of the time it feels like a 640 GB SSD (I have a laptop with a 256 GB SSD, so I know what a proper SSD "feels like"). I was actually considering a 500GB Samsung Evo, but decided to stick with the current solution until either the cache drive wears out, or 1TB SSD's become truly affordable.
  • avamonster - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    Glad you didn't post this idiotic picture of 1633a having 16TB, like all the other copy-paste macarena-news sites.

    Putting 500+ current-generation 256Gb ICs in 2.5" box does not seem possible (well, I mean without using the road roller)

    The interesting question here, is WHEN do they plan to achieve this 16Tb in 2.5" box?
    The HOW part is quite obviously by increasing the number of layers.
  • MikhailT - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    Samsung is the one that posted the slide that shows clearly a 16TB in a single SSD called 1633a: http://arstechnica.co.uk/gadgets/2015/08/samsung-u...

    How is idiotic if Samsung is the one presenting the picture?
  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    With a 256Gbit (32GB) die and 16 dies per package, there are "only" 32 NAND packages, which isn't out of reach with a multi-layer PCB design like the 2.5" 15mm drives are.
  • iwod - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    Are the Current 850 EVO SSD Based on 1st Generation V-NAND? They are 128Gb V-NAND? If so the 2nd Gen V-NAND are not yet on market SSD yet?
    If they are 2nd Gen, What happened to 1st Gen -V-NAND? Never went to market?

    So assuming perfect scaling, I could expect 2TB SSD in the same current ~$350 price range next year? And 3TB for $350 in 2017?

  • iwod - Thursday, August 13, 2015 - link

    Another thought is how far we are from having the V-NAND built on top of the NAND Controller? Essentially a single Chip / package SSD solution?
  • hojnikb - Friday, August 14, 2015 - link

    We already have that for quite some time.
    Its called eMMC.
  • Impulses - Friday, August 14, 2015 - link

    Yeah the gens thing confused me too, I dunno about 2TB for $350 next year tho. I'm gonna guess $500 at best, they *just* debuted the 2TB EVO for $800. Even if you assume street price will soon drop by $100 to better align with it's smaller siblings, a 50% price drop in a year seems unlikely.

    NAND price is one thing, what the market will bear due to demand and competition is another. I paid $380 for a 500GB 840 EVO I gifted in September of 2013 and it wasn't until very recently that the 1TB 850 EVO started going under that. So it took two years to see the kinda price drop you're talking about..

    I'll be pleasantly surprised if more TLC competition starts driving prices down quicker tho, I'd totally add a 2TB next year for $350 to the two 1TB I'll have by then. :P
  • JackNSally - Friday, August 14, 2015 - link

    First generation was a "test" generation.

    Right after the first graph.


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