Intel has started production of their first datacenter PCIe SSD using QLC 3D NAND flash memory, which stores four bits per memory cell. This isn't a full product announcement and we don't even have a proper name for the new SSD, just a mention that it is part of a new D5 product family for datacenters—which may signal a reorganization of Intel's naming scheme for SSDs. Intel will be sharing more information in a few weeks at Flash Memory Summit August 7-9, where Intel VP Rob Crooke is scheduled to give a keynote speech on August 8. Earlier this year, Intel confirmed that they would be producing QLC SSDs in the second half of 2018, and that they were putting up to 20TB in a 2.5" U.2 drive, but it is not yet clear whether that configuration is one that's going into mass production at this time.

Intel is expecting this to be the first QLC SSD available for this market segment. Micron has already launched an enterprise SATA SSD using QLC NAND. No consumer SSDs with QLC NAND have been announced yet. Samsung, Toshiba and Western Digital have been talking about their QLC NAND for at least a year, but of them only Toshiba has confirmed plans to mass produce QLC on the current 64L 3D NAND process. Samsung has put off QLC until their 96L generation, which has just entered mass production but only of small TLC dies so far, so they are unlikely to be in mass production of QLC SSDs until late this year or early next year.

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  • brakdoo - Friday, July 20, 2018 - link

    Well, Western Digital just gave details on their QLC chip:
  • boozed - Friday, July 20, 2018 - link

    Where are the details?
  • brakdoo - Friday, July 20, 2018 - link

    details might be too much but it's: 4/3 terabit (from 1 gigabit TLC), 96-Layer sampling now, mass production this year.

    Intel is talking about "second half of 2018" too so it's probably the same amount of details...
  • brakdoo - Friday, July 20, 2018 - link

    And they start with SanDisk consumer product shipments (Billy was talking about no consumer).
  • iwod - Friday, July 20, 2018 - link

    From 1Tbit to 1.33Tbit, I don't understand why we need QLC at all. We are scarifying a lot for 33% improvement.

    But if NAND continue to drop due to pressure from Chinese Fabs, and lower demand, we may finally see 512GB SSD replacing 256GB Price range within the next 24 months.
  • HStewart - Friday, July 20, 2018 - link

    This technology is probably one of primary reasons why HDD manufactures are close HDD plants - just hope it comes to consumer - of course I not sure what average consumer will do with 20 TB.

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