Samsung launched a radical shift in solid-state storage with its 3D V-NAND technology, which the South Korean electronics giant developed for a decade before beginning mass production last year. To date, drives using the technique, which involves stacking flash memory chips vertically instead of the horizontal layout of conventional NAND flash, have been geared towards enterprise applications and workstations. Long promised, the day when 3D V-NAND would reach consumer SSDs has finally arrived with the launch of Samsung’s SSD 850 Evo family. The new technology promises enhanced endurance and lower costs, the latter of which is borne out by the competitive price of the new drives.
Things have advanced quite a bit since our last thoroughly in-depth look at how solid state disks work, and Samsung has been one of the biggest companies leading the charge toward faster, denser solid state drives. Its 840 EVO was the first consumer SSD to use TLC NAND—that’s triple-level cell NAND, which can store three bits per memory cell instead of one or two. Now, Samsung’s newest consumer SSD takes NAND density a step further, stacking the memory cells on top of each other in a complex sandwich. The 850 EVO, formally announced this morning, uses 32-layer TLC “V-NAND,” where the “V” stands for “vertical.” As we discussed previously at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung is the only SSD manufacturer that makes “the whole widget”—it’s the only vertically integrated OEM that builds every part of the SSDs it sells, including the NAND that actually holds the data. This gives the company a distinct advantage over other SSD manufacturers—most of whom source their NAND from Samsung.