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Samsung ships the world's highest capacity SSD, with 15TB of storage

Lucas Mearian | March 3, 2016
Samsung revealed it was working on the drive last August.

Samsung Electronics announced Wednesday that it is now shipping the industry's highest-capacity solid-state drive (SSD), the 15.36TB PM1633a.

Samsung revealed it was working on the drive last August, saying it would use the same form factor as for a laptop computer: 2.5-in.

The 2.5-in SSD is based on a 12Gbps Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface for use in enterprise storage systems. The PM1633a has blazing fast performance, with random read and write speeds of up to 200,000 and 32,000 I/Os per second (IOPS), respectively. It delivers sequential read and write speeds of up to 1200MBps, the company said. A typical SATA SSD can peak at about 550MBps.

Because the PM1633a comes in a 2.5-in. form factor, IT managers can fit twice as many of the drives in a standard 19-in. 2U (3.5-in.) rack, compared to an equivalent 3.5-in. storage drive. The SSD also sets a new bar for sustainability, Samsung said. The 15.36TB PM1633a drive supports one full drive write per day, which means 15.36TB of data can be written every day on a single drive without failure.

The SSD can write from two to 10 times as much data as typical SATA SSDs based on planar MLC and TLC NAND flash technologies.

Samsung said it is betting on the PM1633a SSD line-up to "rapidly become" the overwhelming favorite over hard disks for enterprise storage systems.

"To satisfy an increasing market need for ultra-high-capacity SAS SSDs from leading enterprise storage system manufacturers, we are directing our best efforts toward meeting our customers' SSD requests," Jung-bae Lee, senior vice president of Samsung Electronic's Application Engineering Team, said in a statement. The performance of the PM1633a SSD is based on four factors: the 3D NAND (vertical NAND or V-NAND) chips; 16GB of DRAM; Samsung's proprietary controller chip; and the 12Gbps SAS interface.

The random read IOPS performance is about 1,000 times that of SAS-type hard disk drives and the sequential read and write speeds are more than twice the speed of a typical SATA SSD, the company said.

Combining 512 of Samsung's 256Gbit V-NAND memory chips enables the SSD's unprecedented 15.36TB of data storage capacity in a single drive. V-NAND, or 3D NAND, is a way of stacking NAND cells one atop another like a microscopic skyscraper. Not only does it double the density of standard planar NAND chips, from 128Gbits to 256Gbits, it also increases performance.

Samsung originally announced the 48-layer V-NAND last August, saying it also sports 3-bits per cell or multi-level cell (MLC) NAND technology.

In the V-NAND chip, each cell utilizes the same 3D Charge Trap Flash (CTF) structure in which the cell arrays are stacked vertically to form a 48-storied mass that is electrically connected through 1.8 billion channel holes vertically punching through the arrays by using a special etching technology. In total, each chip contains more than  85.3 billion cells. They each can store 3 bits of data, resulting in 256 billion bits of data -- in other words, 256Gb on a chip that's larger than the tip of a finger.

 

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