Solid state drives (SSD) are the new backbone of storage. Compact, quiet, and virtually error free are all things that describe solid state drives. However, two things that do not describe SSD’s are high capacity and low cost. As of earlier this year, consumers can now agree that SSDs will now have high capacities due to Samsung’s recent reveal. Samsung recently announced their new line of solid state drives that contain unseen capacities for SSD’s including an 8TB and 16TB capacity drive. In comparison the highest capacity hard disk drive (HDD) that has come out so far only reaches 10TB.
The secret technology behind these powerhouse drives is a new 256-gigabit 3D V-NAND flash memory utilized by Samsung. To see how Samsung accomplished this new technology, we have to know how a SSD works. Solid state drives are commonly flash-memory-based and use NAND (negative-AND) flash memory. Solid state drives can also have other memory bases, but for now we will only talk about flash based. In simple terms, NAND is a way to store data on microchips, much like RAM sticks. Data is stored in a grid like pattern made of up cells, blocks and pages. A cell is contains a single binary value of 0 or 1, a page is a group of cells, and a block is a group of pages. Typically, a cell can hold 3 bits of data, a page 4KB of data, and a block can hold 128 pages or 512KB of data. If you go deeper than that, a plane can hold 1024 blocks. Encompassing everything is something called a die which contains one or two planes. Using those numbers, a 512MB USB flash drive will have one die of data in a single layer. 3D V-NAND or 3D Vertical-NAND takes a single die even further by folding it onto itself to create multiple layers in a single die. What Samsung has done is “folding” a single die into 48 layers. That is 48 layers made up of over 85 billion cells, each storing 3 bits of data for a total of 256 billion cells which combines into a 256GB chip. Take that one chip, turn it into 16 layers to form a 512GB package and then multiply the number of chips by 32 and you get Samsung’s new 16TB solid state drive. As an added bonus, all the layering that is done also decreases power consumption by as much as 30% compared to an SSD made up of 32 layers.
Increased storage capacity is not the only thing Samsung is boasting about this new PM1633a lineup. Samsung also claims that their new lineup has read and writes speeds of up to 1200MB/s with an IOPS (Input/output Operations per Second) that is 1000 times greater than SAS type hard drives. They also claim the PM1633a solid state drives have twice the read and write speeds of other typical solid state drives. So even if a 16TB SSD is overkill, they still offer other capacities up to 8TB with this new technology.
Of course all good things have a price and solid state drives tend to have steep prices. There is no official cost for the 16TB SSD so far, but estimates have been floating around and such a drive will cost at least $10,000 per unit. A very pricey investment, but one that surely guarantees satisfaction.