Developments in the field of SSDs have suddenly gone very fast. Both Samsung and WD only introduced their first NVMe SSDs with 64-layer flash memory at the beginning of this year, and a few weeks ago Toshiba surprised everyone by announcing another SSD with the next generation 3D NAND. Today, exclusively on Hardware.Info, we are presenting the very first review (worldwide) of the Toshiba XG6, an OEM SSD that gives us a taste of the product launches we can expect later this year.
Flash memory manufacturers were involved in a battle, just like with DRAM and for example processors, to make the NAND as small as possible. The arrival of 3D NAND meant a radical turnaround: instead of making the memory cells smaller and smaller, which is associated with disadvantages for speed and reliability, attempts have since been made to stack them as high as possible. So from a race to the smallest production process, we went to a race to the highest number of layers.
New generation BiCS
64-layer 3D NAND is just beginning to become a bit of a standard, and Toshiba is already taking the next step. Together with WD, they have been developing their BiCS flash memory for several years, which stands for Bit Cost Scaling, but it has only been used massively in consumer products since the previous 64-layer BiCS 3 generation. Besides Toshiba's own (OCZ) SSDs, we also found it in models by Corsair, Plextor and Kingston, for example. With a substantial investment the latter have secured themselves 20% of Toshiba's share of the nano-output.
Very recently, Toshiba announced the availability of BiCS 4, i.e. its 96-layer 3D NAND. With this memory, 40% more data can be stored on the same surface area than with 64 layer memory, which opens the door to even more affordable SDDs. In the future, this memory should even become available as QLC with four bits instead of three bits per cell, which in turn leads to an immediate cost reduction of 33%. Incidentally, Samsung also announced last month that it would start mass production of 96-layer NAND, but it is not yet clear when we can expect this in products.
However, Toshiba was able to already deliver us an SSD with this brand new 96-layer NAND in the present. On the next page you can read all about the Toshiba XG6, the first SSD that utilizes this new type of NAND.