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To meet the continually growing data needs of today’s enterprises, solid-state drive (SSD) manufacturers are producing cutting-edge devices with higher capacities than previous generations. Whether you’re considering 2-bit MLC, 3-bit TLC or V-NAND storage options, SSDs have come a long way in recent years — and some of the more advanced options may be game changers for your organization.
Solving a Paradox
Manufacturers are constantly working to increase SSD capacity, performance and endurance. The most obvious way to do this is by squeezing more transistors into the same space by making the transistors smaller.
Doing so, however, makes the devices more prone to errors, which requires more error-correcting code and more processing power to check for errors. As the sizes of individual cells decrease, the number of atoms that make up individual cells go from hundreds to dozens, making quantum effects increasingly important. These effects introduce the possibility of errors due to random noise, along with the possibility of cross talk between cells due to the decreased distance between pathways. SSD manufacturers, therefore, needed to invent a solution to overcome this paradox: an SSD that has greater capacity and takes up the same physical space, yet doesn’t require smaller transistors.
Advancing SSD Technology
When looking to improve their SSD servers, enterprises have to evaluate whether to use 2-bit Multi-Level Cells (MLC) or 3-bit MLC (aka TLC). Additionally, they should also consider the new Vertical NAND (V-NAND) technology, which is available in both 2-bit and 3-bit varieties. Unlike planar technology, where increased density is achieved by shrinking the cell geometry, V-NAND increases capacity by stacking cells in multiple layers. By not shrinking the individual cells, the performance and endurance issues of cell-to-cell interference are avoided.
Choosing the Right Technology
How do you decide what the best solution is? From a user perspective, the main difference between 3-bit and 2-bit MLC is in endurance. 2-bit MLC requires less energy to program, and thus offers stronger endurance and better performance in sequential-type applications. Conversely, 3-bit MLC requires more energy leading to lower endurance over 2-bit MLC, and is more suited for random-type applications. The tradeoff is in cost. Drives using 2-bit MLC will have a higher cost than 3-bit MLC.
V-NAND based SSDs, when compared to the previous planar NAND, deliver increases in endurance and performance. In fact, a 3-bit V-NAND will perform better than a 2-bit planar NAND SSD, thus not only providing you with cost savings, but also increased endurance.
Applying SSDs in Servers
From the administrator’s point of view, the difference between MLC vs. TLC and planar vs. V-NAND is a question of application and endurance. As server applications continue to push the boundaries of how much data can be processed by a given system, the high-performance capabilities of SSDs are an ever-increasing necessity, offset only by the cost per gigabyte and overall capacity. TLC and V-NAND are helping to push capacities and endurance up, while pushing costs down, making SSDs increasingly a more cost-effective option in the data center.
The perception that SLC offers superior technology to MLC or TLC is no longer true, and the vastly superior capacities and endurance of V-NAND offer administrators the means to use the speed and efficiency of flash in virtually any server. Continued improvements in memory technology may drive more businesses to consider SSDs, such as the Samsung PM863 or SM863 Series, to help improve their servers’ reliability and capacity.
Evaluating the differences between 2-bit MLC, 3-bit TLC and V-NAND for enterprise applications? Read the whitepaper below to learn more.