Samsung Electronics told customers attending this month's Samsung Mobile Solutions Forum in Taipei that it has developed the world's fastest, 2.5-inch, 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) for use in laptops and other consumer electronics gear.
Based on multi-level cell (MLC) technology with the ability to store more than a single bit of information per cell, the new SSD will effectively eliminate density as a barrier to SSD adoption in laptops and other consumer products, Samsung executives say.
"With development of the 256GB SSD, the notebook PC is on the brink of a second stage of evolution," said Samsung Semiconductor Vice President Jim Elliott. "This change is comparable to the evolution from the Sony Walkman to NAND memory-based MP3 players, representing an initial step in the shift to thinner, smaller SSD-based notebooks with significantly improved performance and more than ample storage."
A Steep Growth Curve
Samsung has not released pricing information for its forthcoming 256GB drive as well as a smaller 1.8-inch SSD due out in the fourth quarter of this year. But Samsung Semiconductor Senior Marketing Manager Steve Weinger thinks the historic price declines for flash memory provide a good indicator.
"Price declines have been occurring at a 40 to 45 percent year-over-year clip for the last 10-plus years pretty steadily," Weinger noted. "And now we have the first drives based on the technology leading that decline."
One benefit of MLC is lower cost, Weinger observed. "Today at the gigabyte level, the cost of an MLC chip is less than two times that of an SLC (single-level cell) of comparable density," he said. "Having MLC at a higher-density price point is opening up that consumer market for us."
Samsung's forthcoming 128GB SSD will hit the density level that Weinger thinks best fits the full spectrum of business uses for the technology. "The 256GB SSD is a better mark for the consumer space, where you are dealing with much more multimedia, which you don't have in the enterprise space," he said.
According to the latest projections from iSuppli, the SSD market is expected to grow at an annualized average of 124 percent between 2008 and 2012. Analyst Nam Kim said iSuppli's assumption is that the price per gigabyte will decline from $7.28 in 2007 to just 30 cents by 2012. Moreover, SSD unit pricing is expected to fall from a representative $244.68 in 2007 to less than $100 in 2012, he added.
Compact and Fast
Samsung executives say their latest SSD is capable of achieving sequential read and write speeds of 200MB/s and 160MB/s, respectively. This makes the new SSD about 2.4 times faster than a conventional hard-disk drive, they said.
Measuring about 100 by 70mm, the drive integrates a sophisticated data-encryption process that enterprises can use to prevent data stored on the SSD from unauthorized access -- even after the SSD has been removed. Major advancements in proprietary controller technology also will allow Samsung's 256GB SSD to achieve a mean time between failures of one million hours, the company said.
The compact device, which is only 9.5mm thick, will be offered with a 3Gbit/s Serial Advanced Technology Attachment interface. And power consumption will be exceptionally low at just 0.9 watts.
Samsung said it expects to begin mass-producing the new drive by year's end, with customer samples available in September.