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  • krumme - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Low cost ssd, is far more important for consumers than the next fancy cpu with record breaking speed
    Hope reliability will improve for all
    Reply
  • formulav8 - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Well 25nm flash was supposed to noticably lower ssd prices. I wouldn't have my hopes up with 20nm. Maybe after 25nm prcoess is mature enough then the prices may lower... Reply
  • Daemas - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    the 25nm process will never mature enough because they'll just switch to 20nm the second it comes out. Reply
  • TypeS - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Honestly, SSDs will never see the price point/GB that HDDs enjoy and consumers need to stop waiting for that day. I've worked a brick and mortar computer for sometime now and I keep hearing customers they will wait for the prices to drop. I think some consumers want to replace their HDD storage with SSDs all together, which I don't think will happen for a long time to come (and it won't be by SSDs). You honestly only need a 60/80GB (now 160GB with 25nm) for most Windows installations. Hoping for sub $50 1TB SSDs is like hoping for the US to solve it's ballooning debt. Reply
  • vol7ron - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Normally I'd agree, but in this case I have to disagree.

    The difference between 25nm and 20nm is not much. My guess is that the rated 3000-5000 P/E cycles was a little conservative for 25nm on purpose, for the shear fact that the 20nm will actually perform at that spec, thus avoiding a marketing dilemma.

    I also don't see them doing away with the 25nm, just because 20nm will be out. I don't know the numbers off hand, but I'm not sure that they've made enough profit to pay off R&D. Instead, I could see Intel using their 25nm in larger capacity drives.

    Up to this point all we've seen is the leading consumer disks either provide a better controller, or minimized fabrication to increase performance. These are both the easy way out because they're going with what they know and what the market knows. I am still wanting to see something more creative. More chips per board, faster DRAM, faster controllers.

    In essence, I view each SSD card like a mini computer w/in the computer. You have your controller (the cpu), the RAM, and each NAND (individual HDs in a RAID-0). Bottlenecks do exist internally - how much? I dont know - but throwing more NAND chips into the array or using faster memory will improve speed.

    It may cost more, but the $/GB will decrease the more NAND chips you slap on it. And, of course, using more NAND in the devices, will actually decrease the market price. Yes, I'd like to have 2TB SSD for everything, and 5-10TB of HDD for backups and longterm media (DVR).

    ------------------------------

    Final note: I've said it every other time, so I might as well say it now; Intel is playing the same game they played with their CPUs, getting every ounce of $$ out of their consumers pockets for marginal updates. They need to combine their wear-leveling with some decent compression algorithms to have the ultimate SSD. I don't really know much about how either are applied, but I assume they would play nice w/ each other. It might involve adding a few more capacitors to ensure power-outage integrity, but c'mon.
    Reply
  • Exelius - Monday, April 18, 2011 - link

    Intel doesn't have anywhere near the pricing power in the SSD market that they have in the CPU market. NAND is effectively a commodity product, Intel is a big player but they're certainly not the only one. Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    Just because a process technology is released does not mean the old equipment goes out to the pasture. Rather they are relegated to other less size critical items to manufacture like the chipset or other semiconductors. I wouldn't be surprised if there were still a ton of 0.25 micron (250 nm) or larger products out there. Reply
  • claytontullos - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    The intel 320 series did produce lower ssd prices, but only for 160gb sizes and up. The 160gb 320 series can be found for $299 - whereas the x25m 160gb was $399. Reply
  • taltamir - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    don't confuse "cost to manufacture" and "cost to buy"... even though cost to manufacture went down, cost to buy did not because there is simply too much demand and not enough production. Reply
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  • ProDigit - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Could not agree more!
    I'd like to see drives hitting the $1/GB for SSD, though I doubt that's going to happen any time soon!
    Just the simple reduction in read latency, and the optimized garbage collection (increasing also IOPS,by introducing delayed writes), even without higher than HD burst transfer speeds, is already enough for many.

    Many could not care less if their harddrive can be written to at 500MB/s or 550MB/s.
    Most people will not come close to these results anyways, and most people buy the lowest priced SSD's because the other ones are unaffordable. Thus having a 16, 20, 24, 32, 40, 60, 64, or 80GB SSD can be written full in a few seconds. Burst rates are kind of a non factor.
    I'd rather have a drive that has high iops and 300MB/s burst than one with low iops and high burst rates (in the likes of 500MB/s).

    I rather have an affordable 40GB Kingston drive as my OS drive, than an unaffordable $1000 SSD and stuck with a monthly payment plan!
    Reply
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  • Metaluna - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Wow I guess I haven't been paying attention. What happened to all the doom & gloom I was reading a year or so ago about how 25nm MLC was going to only have about 1000 write/erase cycles, and it was only downhill after that? Now I read that we can expect 34nm endurance levels all the way down to 20nm, which is great news. Reply
  • phaxmohdem - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    I was also under the impression that smaller nodes = less write cycles, but that controller voodoo can compensate for that by wear-leveling to the point that 1000 write cycles would last 100+ years under normal write-usage conditions.

    I suppose they could also tweak the composition of the material that holds the charge to reduce electron leakage too.

    However its accomplished, as long as the drive has a long serviceable lifespan, it's all good in da hood.
    Reply
  • L. - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    I believe there is a wrong assumption somewhere about the write cycles.

    The common belief is that NAND gets worse because of size, which seems illogical (do your CPU's get worse because of size ? not at all - but on the other hand you cannot allow for mistakes in CPU manufacture else it just doesn't work - unlike NAND).

    I'm under the impression that for the same quality of NAND you have the same number of write cycles, regardless of the process.

    Which would lead to the conclusion that those bad write cycle numbers are only related to the following fact : it takes time to reach the same level of quality on a new process.

    In other words:
    t0 34nm NAND = 10k writes
    t1 34nm NAND = 15k writes
    t1 25nm NAND = 5k writes
    t2 25nm NAND = 10k writes
    t2 20nm NAND = 5k writes

    and so on, just like early 40nm nVidia yields were a huge failure while now everybody uses 40nm without much problems.

    Quite clearly, you can easily use moore's law again and just say that in 10 years we'll have 2nm NAND that has 10k writes no problem (careful, random numbers inserted - although it can't be far from the truth).
    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    i don't think it's that cut and dry.

    read anand's article on micron's clearnand that he published last december, pay special attention to the section called "The Drawbacks of Nand Scaling."

    to paraphrase, NAND actually gets weaker with every program/erase cycle and the smaller the cells get, the less physical material there is to deteriorate before they burn out.
    so, yes, as the process scales down, the nand gets weaker by orders of magnitude.
    he goes on to say that 1. nand cycles have, so far, been very conservatively rated, so many companies are just stretching the numbers out, even though the 34nm stuff really is capable of more cycles, and 2. that the only reasonable way that smaller nand can compensate for the write endurance problem is to use smarter controllers that work with better economy.

    i haven't come across anything about the effects of advancement in the immersion lithography process, but i am assuming the big focus at the fabs is trying to get as much useful nand out of each wafer as possible.
    i'm not sure how much, if at all, that process advancements (using the same materials) could possibly increase the p/e cycles.
    maybe somebody else here can answer that question?
    Reply
  • Out of Box Experience - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    SSD makers might want to start rethinking how they use capacitors to maintain data reliability for long term storage instead of short term power outages

    We need SSD's that can hold our data reliably for 100 years instead of 1

    or DVD's that can maintain read only data for 100 years instead of 10

    or hard drives that mirror our SSD's in the background for long term data storage instead of SSD's that simply cache our hard drives

    THINK LONG TERM STORAGE

    not short term profit

    Reply
  • tno - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    That's not too far from NC. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Every once in a while you see some new tech pop up that has the potential to replace NAND, but you never hear the OEMs talk about them. Just how far can they scale flash? Reply
  • Metaluna - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    Yes it reminds me of the 1980's (dating myself) when everyone was talking about how silicon was going to be replaced by gallium arsenide. But then silicon fab technology just kept getting better and better and GaAs never really took off except for certain boutique applications (like super-high speed telecom equipment). I wonder if we will see that with Flash. Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    I haven't looked in a while (not even to confirm the accuracy of this comment), but Unity Semiconductor has been working on a "replacement" for NAND for a few years.

    The issue with NAND SSD's is that they are consumable. An HDD, if it gets past infant mortality, can keep running for a decade; all of mine have, never had a head crash or other catastrophic failure. Getting data off a drive can be a pain, what with registry entries and install keys and such. Knowing that you'll have to do that in a few years, no matter what, is reason enough to not use SSD.

    For enterprise drives, it's a bit more manageable, in that replacement is part of the normal course of business. However, I've read, from credible sites, that MLC/prosumer parts don't often make it to 3 years. It isn't time, but total data writes that matter, and a RDBMS drive can get there really fast. Changing to BCNF schemas makes the arithmetic work better, but getting BCNF to be "normal" will take a lot of education and a while.
    Reply
  • Hector2 - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    "The issue with NAND SSD's is that they are consumable"

    Really, how many keep a HDD for 10 years ? If you never upgarde your PC, then there would be some but how many people today run on IDE ? Even if I don't upgrade my PC, and I do, I end up upgrading to a denser drive every couple of years. Sure, I still have a 1 GB HDD somewhere in storage that would still work if my motherboard supported IDE but what's the point ? I'll still be upgrading my storage system as they get denser and faster and I expect that will mean SSD more & more in the future. I just upgraded my PC and guess what, it's a mix of SSD & Sata HDDs. No big surprise there.
    Reply
  • haplo602 - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    this all depends on your use cases.

    I am still running my systems from old 40GB IDE drives. You don't need to reinstall Linux every time something new comes out :-) Basicaly I keep my user data on separate filesystems and reinstall/upgrade the OS as I need.

    When you upgrade to denser drives, do you always migrate all your data ? how long does it take ? How much of that data do you realy reuse ? I have CDs full of movies I have never seen, same with games, mp3s etc.

    If you just reinstall windows/apps/games on a new drive, that's fine. It's easy to do on new drives. However keeping large photo/movie/music collections and migrating them all the time is not comfortable.

    The ultimate problem with SSDs is that they have projected lifetime that is very short. In magnetic HDDs, the MTBF was limited by mechanical parts. With SSDs it's the actual storage medium. That's a big difference.
    Reply
  • L. - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    It's a big difference, that can be POSITIVE.

    That is the main part nobody talks about.

    If (and I wouldn't say it's the case) SSD's lowest utilization limit is related to NAND write cycles, then in most cases an SSD's lifetime is much much much much much much much (think I got enough of these) longer than that of an HDD.

    How long (what actions) does it take for an HDD to show bad blocks ?

    I personally don't hold the answer but I can tell you ALL HDD's I've seen with bad blocks had not written 5.000 times their total capacity before that happened.

    The reality is that there is a fair chance SSD's are much more reliable than HDD's in non-extremely-intensive-write cases, such as mostly everything.
    Reply
  • L. - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    The issue with NAND SSD's is a non-issue.
    Wake up bro, you cannot kill a NAND device due to write cycle limits in any scenario but the most extreme and unlikely.

    What you have read is not about modern controllers, it's about first gen crap that did not handle write leveling and all that.

    Today, with MLC NAND drives that have wear leveling and are managed to never exceed 90% full, even a RDBMS drive will NOT fail in 3 years (as I said, except if you do something really unusual).

    You have to understand that with write leveling, you can more or less say that those 5000 drives approximate to 5000*sdd size total data writing (or less with sandforce type stuff - and yes there is a whole f*ton to compress in a database) which except in abnormal case is not going to happen at all. (this still means 5*full capacity * 90% data written each and every day...).

    For the enterprise, there will be no move until google or some other big player makes a public statement on how they saved a f*ton of money on drives and power by using MLC nand as storage.

    It is not a problem of technology but a problem of conservative mindsets combined with feedback from early adoption of dev-technology (SSD's without write leveling and all that were really just prototypes).
    Reply
  • B3an - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    Anand has also said for 25nm nand (and now 20nm nand too, as it has the same program/erase cycles):

    "Let's quickly do the math again. If you have a 100GB drive and you write 7GB per day you'll program every MLC NAND cell in the drive in just over 14 days—that's one cycle out of three thousand. Outside of SandForce controllers, most SSD controllers will have a write amplification factor greater than 1 in any workload. If we assume a constant write amplification of 20x (and perfect wear leveling) we're still talking about a useful NAND lifespan of almost 6 years. In practice, write amplification for desktop workloads is significantly lower than that."

    Thats an absolute worst case scenario that in reality is pretty much near impossible. In reality a modern SSD will last many many times longer even with heavy daily use.

    Or put another way:

    "my drive has 203.4GB of space to spread out those 7GB of writes per day. That means in roughly 29 days my SSD, if it wear levels perfectly, I will have written to every single available flash block on my drive. Tack on another 7 days if the drive is smart enough to move my static data around to wear level even more properly. So we're at approximately 36 days before I exhaust one out of my ~10,000 write cycles. Multiply that out and it would take 360,000 days of using my machine for all of my NAND to wear out; once again, assuming perfect wear leveling. That's 986 years. Your NAND flash cells will actually lose their charge well before that time comes, in about 10 years."

    Thats for 50nm name. For 20/25nm you cut that in half, which is 493 years of use.
    Reply
  • L. - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    Also, SSD's = high performance, and as far as I know, even if you needed to replace your ssd's every year, you would still get better performance / price than you can ever dream of with hdd's (that is for those rare people who actually make full use of an ssd's performance characteristics). Reply
  • hackztor - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - link

    3000 writes is now the norm but due to algorithms, most people will never reach it for a long time. There are ways to make your ssd last longer too, have your torrents download to a hd, extract iso files on hd ect. Reply
  • PubFiction - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    The future of SSDs as a mainstream storage medium is all about their ability to scale down reliably.

    If they cannot scale down reliably then we will not get cheaper drives. Just like we have seen in this last generation there was no 1/2 price break. So the price / GB is not dropping very fast. On top of that we have the issue where smaller nodes may be unable to achieve as many writes. If that keeps going by the time we drop to 10 nm we may realistically be at a situation where SSDs become disposable items and if that is the case the cost will seem high for what you are getting. I buy all my PC components with the expectation they will last me about 2 year THEN I will pass them on to other family members who will use them for much longer. Also if you talk to the average person out on the street they usually think that they should be able to use their computer much longer than 3 years.

    So for reliable SSDs that last a while will be continue to squeeze 3000 writes out of them or will they continue to move down with each die shrink? And will this loss of reliability get to a point where we have to choose between cheaper drives which wear out and more reliable drives that are expensive and built on older nodes.
    Reply
  • Movieman420 - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    One of the biiig selling points for SF is their great ability to handle the ever increasing ECC demands that go hand in hard with each die shrink. And if one couples that with the upcoming 'self-ECC' equipped nand...SF will continue to look good. Then throw toggle nand and onfi 2.0 nand around the corner in the mix...2011 WILL be the year that SSD technology truly establishes it's self beyond ANY doubts. And this info is based on what I know of the SF1200/1500...imagine what the 22xx and 25xx have in store. Insert drool here. Reply
  • ClagMaster - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    I suppose this is progress of sorts. Still, for a 2000-3000 cyling life, this is OK.

    What is the next stepdown in NAND gates ?

    When I can get a 120 GB SSD with SATA 6G for $120 or less, then I will make the swich for my desktop.
    Reply
  • sweinhart2006 - Saturday, April 16, 2011 - link

    I find it quite amusing to see people pick and choose bits of information and mix them up out of context to make up their own opinions so far from the truth it makes me laugh. Anand has explained in multiple articles why the pe cycle issue is really a non-issue. For most users an SSD will last well over 5 years. And if your using an SSD to record music and movies, you are just waisting your money because media throughput does not require 3-6Gbps and wont make a bit of difference during playback. And unlike processors, there isnt nearly as much profit margin on NAND devices. It takes 5-10x as much silicon real estate while selling for the same price as a midrange cpu. The more real estate required to manufacture a single device, the more yield issues and defects come into play when factoring in costs of manufacturing. Reply
  • epeets - Sunday, April 17, 2011 - link

    Good cause the obvious rewards from this advancement can be seen but bad cause big business will cause them to charge us more for it before they actually drop the price on anything. Reply
  • endervalentine - Monday, April 18, 2011 - link

    Not sure if Anand or anyone else can chime in on how they're able to overcome program disturbs at 20nm. Also, what engineering ingenuity are they doing to get down to 15nm, with SSD it seems like disturbs are a bigger limiting factor compared to the litho. Reply
  • zvadim - Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - link

    the MLC NAND wearing issue will become a none-issue with eventual scale up of storage capacity & decline in price. With proper wear-leveling, 3000 writes on a 300GB drive is much less of an issue then on a 40GB one. Drive capacities at same price points are bound to start doubling sooner or later, and the NAND wear will be forgotten by all but the controller designers & manufacturing engineers. Reply
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