Toshiba has completed a prototype of its latest 96-layer bics memory chip that uses qlc technology. The manufacturer will supply samples to manufacturers at the beginning of September and expects to start mass production next year.
The switch to qlc technology, where each memory cell contains four bits, significantly increases the capacity of the memory chips compared to tlc memory, where the cells contain three bits.
Toshiba can now make memory chips with a capacity of up to 1.33 terabit. According to Toshiba, it is possible to stack sixteen of these chips to achieve a capacity of 2.66 Terabytes in one package. SSDs can consist of several of these packages, for an even higher capacity.
From September, Toshiba will supply memory chips to manufacturers of SSDs and SSD controllers, so that they can make products based on the qlc memory. Mass production should start in 2019.
Several memory manufacturers are moving from tlc- to qlc-nand. Samsung recently started production of 96-layer flash memory, but is currently still using TLC memory and will switch to QLC later. Intel and Micron already introduced an SSD for servers based on qlc-nand in May. Intel has indicated that it will come up with consumer SSDs based on qlc-nand this year. Toshiba announced its qlc memory last year.
Current consumer SSDs mainly use tlc-nand, with three bits per cell. Future SSDs with qlc memory will have a higher density, which allows for lower prices and higher capacities. There are disadvantages such as a lower speed and a shorter lifespan, but manufacturers can partly compensate for this with adjustments to the firmware and the controller, and by adding more memory chips for overprovisioning.