Semiconductor Industry Focuses on Development of QLC SSD

Jun 12, 2019

SSD (Solid State Drive) technology based on ‘QLC (Quad Level Cell)’ technology is drawing attentions within semiconductor industry. Strength of this technology is its ability to store more information into same cell compared to other SSDs. Although it has slower speed and shorter lifespan than current SSDs, semiconductor industry is looking to improve its use through various alternatives.
According to semiconductor industry, semiconductor businesses such as Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, and Intel are working on development of QLC technology with great effort.
SK Hynix recently developed NAND flash memory that applies its own QLC technology to 96-layer 4D NAND product. Its strength is its ability to process data two times faster while its size is 90% smaller than that of 3D NAND flash-based QLC semiconductor.
It is heard that SK Hynix received positive responses back from SSD manufacturers after it sent samples of this product to them.
“We are planning to mass-produce 96-layer 4D NAND QLC products when QLC NAND flash market begins to ripe.” said a representative for SK Hynix.
Samsung Electronics also launched semiconductor industry’s first QLC SSD called ‘860 QVO series’ last year and is selling this product in South Korea, U.S., and Germany.
“Due to increase in amount of work for high-quality multimedia data, there have been high demands for high-performance SSD.” said a representative for Samsung Electronics. “We are planning to lead SSD market through reasonable price.”

SK Hynix’s 96-layer 4D NAND-based 1Tb QLC memory <SK Hynix’s 96-layer 4D NAND-based 1Tb QLC memory>

QLC technology can store 4bits of information into single cell. While current SSDs can store 2bits (MLC) and 3bits (TLC) of information into single cell, QLC technology can store up to 4bits of information through advanced integrated technology.
Semiconductor manufacturers can secure competitive price by greatly reducing unit cost of production. QLC technology allows them to store more information into single cell without having to increase chip size or components per chip.
“Since semiconductor business is a business that is based on ‘economy of scale’, single state-of-the-art technology can greatly reduce cost of mass-production.” said a representative for the industry. “QLC technology will lower unit cost of production and popularize SSD.”
However, QLC-based SSD is slower than current SSDs and has shorter lifespan as it exchanges more information.
Semiconductor businesses are putting various efforts to solve this problem. Prime example is Intel’s ‘Optane Memory H10 SSD’.
“Intel attempted to combine Optane Memory with QLC NAND flash that has faster information processing speed than hard disk but slower information processing speed than current NAND flash products to increase speed of QLC NAND flash products.” said a representative for the industry. “Devices that can minimize slow processing speed of QLC will continue to be developed.”
Although QLC technology was developed to be ‘supplied’ to normal consumers who felt financial burden from expensive SSDs, there is a chance that there will be a greater use for QLC technology in the future as it ripens.
“As performance of QLC increases, it will start to receive spotlight by data centers for storing information.” said a different representative for the industry.
Staff Reporter Kang, Hyeryung | kang@etnews.com

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