Solidigm, a former division of Intel that is now owned by SK Hynix, held a press conference during a recent Tech Field Day 2022 event. The company discussed new technology it was working on and revealed details about upcoming solid-state drives that it hopes to release next year.
Tech Field Day, described as “The Independent IT Influencer Event,” allows companies to discuss or reveal information regarding numerous different tech divisions. Categories can include datacenters, cloud and physical storage, and networking, among many others. The conference has been held multiple times per year since 2009, but Solidigm’s announcement may be the biggest in the event’s history.
The presentation was led by Senior Product Marketing Manager Yuyang Sun, who kicked off the conference by explaining the differences between triple-level cells (TLC) and quad-level cells (QLC). She covers the benefits and trade-offs of the respective methods before moving on to Solidigm’s new “4th Gen QLC,” which boasts major improvements over previous generations of QLC and even current TLC.
The 4th Gen QLC comes in two different “endurance” modes: Essential Endurance and Value Endurance. Solid-state drives with Essential Endurance will have smaller storage capacities due to their 4 KB block size and have a ~32 PB write lifespan. On the other hand, SSDs with Value Endurance can include much larger storage capacities thanks to the 16 KB block size and will feature a ~65 PB write lifespan.
Due to these block sizes, Solidigm is able to manufacture SSDs with storage capacities reaching over 61 TB. Essential Endurance drives come in capacities of 3.84 TB, 7.68 TB, 15.36 TB, and 30.72 TB. Value Endurance drives feature capacities of 7.68 TB, 15.36 TB, 30.72 TB, and 61.44 TB. These are major upgrades from the current limit of consumer SSDs, which is around 16 TB.
Unfortunately, these drives will only be found in “non-conventional” form factors, being sold in E1.S, E1.L, and E3.S form factors, the former two of which are known loosely as “ruler” drives. These form factors are extremely rare and can only be found in datacenters currently.
Solidigm will also sell drives in a U.2 form factor, which is still not very common, but is a form factor for which consumers can buy SATA or PCIe adapters if they so wish.
Solidigm compared one of its 4th Gen QLC drives to unnamed competitors’ TLC and QLC SSDs, and surprisingly, Solidigm’s new drive does closely beat the competing TLC SSD and greatly outperform the other QLC drive. Also, kudos to Solidigm for testing random writes rather than sequential, as random reads and/or writes are much more akin to real-world usage.
Solidigm has not yet confirmed pricing for any of these drives but based on the fact that the drives can feature over 61 TB, it is safe to assume that prices will not be very budget friendly.