While the chiefs at Toshiba have been embroiled in a legal tug of war over the sale of its flash memory business, the technicians have remained hard at work. Unveiling the world’s first QLC – quadruple-level cell – 4-bit flash memory in a 3D flash device, Toshiba’s latest development is already being tipped as a game changer in the low-cost flash memory market.
In spite of the ongoing legal battle with their memory chip business partner Western Digital, both companies released statements of the new technology. But despite the deteriorating relationship, the company has been able to create something that packs even higher storage density at cheaper prices.
QLC is tipped to be the next big step, allowing even greater storage capacity by dividing each cell into 16 charge levels for four bits of data in each cell. And despite the incredibly difficult level of precision needed to pull it off, Toshiba has done so with its latest 3D NAND memory, which features 64-layer stacked QLC cells.
The QLC method throws up a 768 gigabit die capacity, a dramatic improvement over the earlier 512 gigabit TLC dies. Toshiba notes that the new QLC dies can be stacked in a 16-die package to create a single device with 1.5TB of storage, which it claims is the largest capacity in a one unit.
What that all means is higher-capacity flash storage at a lower cost. The price and storage advantage is however balanced against a loss of speed and durability. But the trade-off is a perfect compromise for consumers looking to maximise storage without breaking the bank.
Samples of the 3d QLC NAND have already been shipped to vendors for evaluation. It is unlikely we will see them being used until the start of 2018, but the wheels are in motion for the future of affordable flash memory.