Samsung released a press release yesterday as part of its Flash Memory Summit 2023 keynote, and it has some details somewhere about the 256TB SSD the Korean chaebol is working on. Here's what we know.
Yong Ho Song, Samsung's EVP of Memory Products and Solutions Engineering, "announced the latest 256TB SSD upgrade with an unprecedented level of integration." SSD is based on QLC and is aimed at hyperscalers and enterprises; absolutely no mention of the elephant in the room, the PLC (Penta Level Cell)
The press release states that "Compared to installing eight 32 TB SSDs, one 256 TB SSD consumes approximately seven times less power while storing the same amount of data." A rather confusing statement that we are still trying to decipher.
The QLC Enterprise SSD will be a first for Samsung, but not for the rest of the market. Solidigm's excellent QLC-based D5-P5336 proved that you can combine performance, power and low price, and I expect others, including Samsung, to follow suit.
A single 256TB SSD can replace dozens of hard drives like the Exos X20, although hard drive manufacturers would like to see hyperscalers wait for their 26TB and 30TB drives to hit the market before the latter go into business. However, time is not on the side of hard drive manufacturers.
Samsung has an 8th generation V-NAND with 236 layers and 1TB capacity, which is expected to be released in November 2022 and according to Samsung had the highest bit density (at the time). This is the part that is probably being used. 256TB means this SSD will fit at least 500 1TB (128GB) chips. There aren't many form factors that can fit in that many rooms, mainly because they use more power.
The 3.5" form factor (similar to a 100 TB Nimbus Data SSD) is a likely candidate as it allows direct replacement of SATA/SAS drives of the same size. On the other hand, the new form factors will help the design look ahead; An enterprise and data center standard form factor (EDSFF) such as the E1.L and E3.L 2T can deliver up to 40W and 70W, respectively, and may be another pair of candidates.
Samsung also mentions a 32TB SSD in the press release, but it doesn't currently manufacture such a product. This may refer to the never-released 32TB SSD prototype that was revealed in 2017. This particular model had 512 16GB chips stacked in 16 layers to form a 1TB package, with 32 of those packages stacked in together to hold 32 TB of sticker storage capacity. 2.5 inch form factor.
8th Gen V-NAND is exactly 8 times larger than 4th Gen V-NAND (128GB vs 16GB), and if Samsung can repeat the feat of seven years ago, the 2.5 form factor " looks like the perfect size.
There is another reason why I think this is what Samsung will use. Elsewhere in the press release, Samsung promised to support the 2.5-inch standard by offering a new PCIe 5.0 SSD, the PM9D3a, in this form, but with a capacity of 7.68TB/15.36TB.