Samsung has announced a new SLC flash part with 5x the write/erase cycle spec over standard single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash. They call it server grade flash. Is this the flash promised land or marketing hype?
The press release doesn't mention any numbers, but most SLC flash is spec'ed at 100,000 write/erase cycles. 500,000 write/erase cycles is a significant improvement.
But is it a significant technology?
Announced with Sun
More than one source has told me that current SLC flash is capable of close to 1 million write/erase cycles. Yet no vendor has been willing, until now, to claim a higher spec.
This announcement is a marketing enhancement rather than a technical one. Here's a quote from the press release:
The ultra-endurance server-grade memory has been developed in close cooperation with Sun over the past several months.
Months? For a technology as complex as flash? I don't think so.
The Storage Bits take
The announcement is smart marketing. If Samsung had just increased the spec without tying it to some real or imagined customer benefit they would have missed an opportunity to differentiate their products - and increase their margins.
There may be other issues at work here too. For example the added endurance may enable designers to implement more aggressive garbage collection and cleaning algorithms to improve write performance for OLTP use.
There are a lot of moving parts in SSD engineering. Giving designers more flexibility is a Good Thing.
Sun's involvement points to a larger trend: massive memory servers that provide very high performance without the cost and management headaches of storage arrays. The traditional storage pyramid is being re-architected in real time.
Comments welcome, of course.