Kioxia revisits SLC flash to power FL6 and rival Optane

Solid-state storage maker Kioxia has introduced the FL6 BiCS4 XL-Flash, which makes use of single stage cell (SLC) NAND flash to present efficiency and endurance for purposes reminiscent of storage-class reminiscence and to rival Intel’s Optane product.

Kioxia’s FL6 BiCS4 XL-Flash offers a claimed learn throughput of 6.2GBps and 5.8GBps on writes, with 1.5 million learn IOPS and 0.4 million on writes. Latency is within the low tens of microseconds for reads and writes.

That’s shut to Intel’s Optane P5800X, which reads knowledge at 7.2GBps, with 1.5 million enter/output operations per second (IOPS) and 6 microseconds of latency, and with write throughput of 6.5GBps.

Presumably, the Kioxia product goals at being aggressive on value. The firm hasn’t revealed the price of the FL6, however it will be secure to assume it will likely be cheaper – with its use of commodity flash storage – than Optane’s 3D Xpoint.

FL6 and Optane join by way of PCIe 4.0 and run two channels. Intel plans to announce the P5801X, which can be just a little faster, with throughput of seven.4GBps for reads and writes.

Kioxia’s FL6 is predicated on its so-called XL-Flash, which is constructed on SLC NAND flash. SLC was the primary era of NAND flash to hit the market earlier than being outdated for basic storage use by MLC, TLC, QLC, and so on.

With just one cost per cell, SLC is probably the most fast of the NAND flash generations and has the longest lifespan, but additionally affords the least by way of capability, with 96 layers of cells accessible by way of 16 parallel buses within the case of the FL6 chip.

Use of SLC limits capability, however that’s not the important thing intention right here – efficiency is the primary requirement. FL6 merchandise can be out there initially in 800GB, 1.6TB and 3.2TB capacities, that are the identical as these out there within the P5800X household from Intel.

What SLC does provide to the FL6 is lengthy endurance, with a assure of 5 years, which compares to round a 12 months of life from strange QLC SSDs.

Also utilizing SLC is the Samsung-developed Z-SSD, which is little-changed since its launch in 2019. With 48 layers of SLC, the Samsung SZ985 affords a lot decrease efficiency than the Kioxia FL6, particularly 3.4GBps throughput for reads and 3GBps for writes, with 0.75 million learn IOPS and 0.17 million throughout writes.

Samsung’s Z-SSD connects by way of PCIe 3.0, which is 2x much less speedy, and by way of 4 channels that permit for learn latency of 20 microseconds in reads and 16 microseconds for writes.

A 12 months in the past, Kioxia launched an solid-state drive (SSD) with comparable throughput, the CM6, which has 96 layers of TLC flash. Use of TLC flash restricted endurance and its use in write-intensive environments, reminiscent of with databases, and left the sector open to Optane.

According to analysts DevelopmentForce, Kioxia ranks second amongst world SSD makers with 18.3% of the market, behind Samsung (34% market share). Kioxia, nevertheless, is a goal for takeover by Western Digital (14.7% market share), which plans to make investments $20bn in product growth and to take the place of Samsung.

For its half, Intel (6.7% market share) is ready to redouble its efforts on the Optane entrance, primarily based on a shift to 3D Xpoint and away from NAND flash exercise, which Intel bought to SK Hynix (12.3% market share).

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