July 20th, 2018 by Michael Rink
Intel Now Producing QLC PCIe SSDs
Intel did a curious thing July 19th. It announced that they were now producing their QLC PCIe SSD on their Twitter news account with almost no accompanying details. Since then, Intel has released little additional information but it has confirmed that this will be part of Intel’s new D5 product family for data centers. We expect to learn more at next month’s Flash Memory Summit (August 6th-9th) in Santa Clara. One of Intel’s Sr. Vps, Robert B. Crooke, will be giving a keynote partially about 3D NAND on August 8th.
QLC stands for quad-level cells and is the next step beyond the already common triple level cells (TLC). As the name indicates, QLC packs in 4 bits per cell, one more than TLC. Alongside packing in 33% more bits per cell, we can reasonably expect a further decrease in write speeds and program-erase cycles as well as an increase in power consumption and error-rates; likely necessitating the development of new error-correcting code and controls. Back in January, we got a peek at the specifications for Intel’s planned products for the year. Intriguingly, the chart including the 660p utilizing QLC technology and specified random read/write speeds of up to 150K/150K IOPS and sequential read/write speeds of up to 1800/1100 MB/s. In the absence of any verifiable details about the SSD Intel teased on Twitter we can only speculate if its performance will be in the same ballpark, but at least both drives will have PCIe interfaces.
Intel jointly developed their QLC technology with Micron. Back in May, we covered Micron’s announcement that it had already started shipping its QLC SSDs. At the time, Micron expected broad market availability expected this fall, which could be as soon as 5 weeks from now.