Solidigm, a subsidiary of SK Hynix, can now produce massive solid-state drives with a capacity of 61.44 TB

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The product may appear to consumers as early as next year.

Something to look forward to: Solidigm, the former Intel division now owned by SK Hynix, held a press conference during the recent Tech Field Day 2022 event. The company discussed the new technology it was working on and revealed details about future solid-state drives it hopes to release next year.

Technical Field Day, described as an “Event for independent IT Influencers,” allows companies to discuss or disclose information about numerous different technical divisions. Categories can include data centers, cloud and physical storage, networks, and many others. The conference has been held several times a year since 2009, but the announcement of Solidigm may be the largest in the history of the event.

The presentation was conducted by Senior Product Marketing Manager Yuyang Sun, who opened the conference by explaining the differences between three-level cells (TLC) and four-level cells (QLC). She talks about the advantages and disadvantages of the relevant methods before moving on to the new “4th generation QLC” Solidigm, which boasts significant improvements over previous generations of QLC and even the current TLC.

The 4th generation QLC comes in two different “endurance” modes: Essential Endurance and Value Endurance. Solid-state drives with Essential Endurance will have a smaller capacity due to the 4 KB block size and a write lifetime of ~32 PB. On the other hand, solid-state drives with Value Endurance can have a much larger capacity due to the block size of 16 KB and will have a write lifetime of ~ 65 PB.

Thanks to such block sizes, Solidigm can produce solid-state drives with a capacity of more than 61 TB. Essential Endurance drives are available in capacities of 3.84 TB, 7.68 TB, 15.36 TB and 30.72 TB. Value Endurance disks have a capacity of 7.68 TB, 15.36 TB, 30.72 TB and 61.44 TB. These are major upgrades compared to the current limit of consumer solid-state drives, which is about 16 TB.

Unfortunately, these discs can only be found in “non-traditional” form factors, they are sold in E1.S, E1.L and E3.S form factors, the first two of which are known as “rulers”. These form factors are extremely rare and can currently only be found in data centers.

Solidigm will also sell disks in the U form factor.2, which is still not very common, but is a form factor for which consumers can buy SATA or PCIe adapters if they wish.

Solidigm compared one of its 4th generation QLC drives with TLC and QLC solid-state drives of unnamed competitors, and surprisingly, the new Solidigm drive really closely outperforms the competing TLC solid-state drive and significantly outperforms the other QLC drive. In addition, Solidigm should be thanked for testing random write operations rather than sequential ones, since random read and/or write operations are much more similar to real use.

Solidigm has not yet confirmed the prices for any of these disks, but based on the fact that the disks can have a capacity of more than 61 TB, it is safe to assume that the prices will not be very budget-friendly.

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