Toshiba to start making 100TB QLC Flash Drives in coming months

Toshiba says it is preparing groundwork for 100TB QLC Flash Drives and hopes to release them within months

The race for bigger and bigger capacity storage drives is hotting up. Just two days back, Micron announced its plans to ship 1TB 3D NAND smartphone storage chips by 2020 while Samsung has already set a record for the largest capacity 3D NAND Flash of whopping 15.36TB  storage in March. Japanese tech company, Toshiba is not far behind in the storage capacity race.

Making a presentation at the Flash Memory Summit, Toshiba described its foray into Quad Level Cell or QLC Flash. While Micron and Samsung are setting their eyes on 3D NAND Flash, Toshiba is hedging its bet on QLC Flash.

What is QLC Flash

QLC enables a single cell to hold 4 bits of data. That increases storage density by a third, without the extra costs involved with 3D manufacturing. Cheaper flash, for almost free. But there are downsides. With each increase in bit density – from SLC to MLC to TLC – the cell becomes more sensitive to wear and provides fewer writes before it can be written no more.

The Register notes that Toshiba engineers made a presentation showing a QLC 3D SSD with a PCIe gen 3 interface and more than 100TB of capacity. It would have 3GB/sec sequential read bandwidth and 1GB/sec sequential write bandwidth.

According to the report on The Register, Toshiba’s 100TB would do random reading and writing at 50,000 and 14,000 IOPS respectively. The active state power consumption would be 9 watts, the same as a 3.5-inch, 8TB SATA 6Gbit/s disk drive, while the idle power consumption be less than 100 mWatts, compared to the disk drive’s 8 watts.

However, The Register correctly notes that presentations are one thing and putting together such a drive is a different ball game. QLC Flash and 3D NAND are very new technologies and making them work commercially at a cheaper price will be a great challenge for Toshiba as well as Micron and Samsung.

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