SanDisk 15nm Products: Will Flash Save the World?

By Henry Newman

SanDisk stated in a press release that “1Z technology to deliver NAND flash solutions with no sacrifice in memory performance or reliability.”  People welcome this, but my view is a bit different.  The performance is not going to improve, which means that write performance for flash once again does not improve and stays flat as it has for the last three years.

This of course is no surprise if you read my column this month, but further proves my point that flash performance cannot improve much – and that it is not going to save the world.  Flash of course has its advantages over disk for IOPS, especially if they are aligned to the 4 KiB block. But for a number of applications I am dealing with data alignment is – at best – iffy and at worst not really possible without a huge recoding effort. And therefore it’s not really possible given the cost and time.

What SanDisk is doing is 100% correct for the majority of their market, which is removable cards and other flash devices, but it clearly will not help the SSD storage market except from a density perspective.

Of course the other part of the statement is good news: that the reliability has not changed, but my question regards the engineered reliability or the per cell reliability.  There is a big difference between the two statements.  If the per cell reliability is the same then we can expect significantly increased density; on the other hand, if the engineered reliability is the point of reference then the density improvement will not be as great.

I am a firm believer that every storage technology has its place, from flash SSDs to enterprise disk to nearline disk, even to tape.  The market requirements will define the winners and losers, not what vendors tout or research firm quadrants state.

This article was originally published on April 30, 2014