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Western Digital Unveils First-Ever 512Gb 64-Layer 3D NAND Chip (betanews.com) 78

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: As great as these solid state drives are now, they are only getting better. For example, SATA-based SSDs were once viewed as miraculous, but they are now looked at as slow -- PCIe-based NVMe drives are all the rage. To highlight the steady evolution of flash storage, Western Digital today unveiled the first-ever 512 gigabit 64-layer 3D NAND chip. "The launch of the industry's first 512Gb 64-layer 3D NAND chip is another important stride forward in the advancement of our 3D NAND technology, doubling the density from when we introduced the world's first 64-layer architecture in July 2016. This is a great addition to our rapidly broadening 3D NAND technology portfolio. It positions us well to continue addressing the increasing demand for storage due to rapid data growth across a wide range of customer retail, mobile and data center applications," says Dr. Siva Sivaram, executive vice president, memory technology, Western Digital. Western Digital further explains that it did not develop this new technology on its own. The company shares, "The 512Gb 64-layer chip was developed jointly with the company's technology and manufacturing partner Toshiba. Western Digital first introduced initial capacities of the world's first 64-layer 3D NAND technology in July 2016 and the world's first 48-layer 3D NAND technology in 2015; product shipments with both technologies continue to retail and OEM customers."
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Western Digital Unveils First-Ever 512Gb 64-Layer 3D NAND Chip

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  • If you can get 512Gbits on one chip why are they expensive? Unless yields are low chips are not expensive to manufacture.

    • by xlsior ( 524145 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @08:33PM (#53815855) Homepage
      1) because they can 2) it takes a while to recoup the investment money of the $$$$ fabrication equipment
    • COGS has little direct correlation to what the market will bear.

    • If you can get 512Gbits on one chip why are they expensive? Unless yields are low chips are not expensive to manufacture.

      I know this one! "3D lithography" is actually just regular lithography with an ridiculous amount of chemical deposition layers (64 in this case). Each layer has steps to add, subtract and verify that layer was properly made. Overall, this can take several weeks before a wafer is completed and yes, there are defects and they track those defects. They have a suitably high yield or they don't bother making them until they work out the process so that they do. Much of the work is done by machines but human

    • If you can get 512Gbits on one chip why are they expensive? Unless yields are low chips are not expensive to manufacture.

      I think they are expensive to manufacture, particularly depending on which process node. Also, are these NAND chip 1-bit, 2-bit or more bits per cell? That translates into very sensitive voltage sensing, which increases the manufacturing complexity

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      If you can get 512Gbits on one chip why are they expensive? Unless yields are low chips are not expensive to manufacture.

      Lots of layers = lots of potential for flaws = lower yields. If there's a 99% of a good layer then for 64 layers you only have 0.99^64 = 52% chance of a good chip.

      • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

        If there's a 99% of a good layer then for 64 layers you only have 0.99^64 = 52% chance of a good chip.

        "So make twice as many and have a 104% yield" said the PHB.

  • by mattmarlowe ( 694498 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @08:49PM (#53815937) Homepage

    Maybe I'm just not keeping up, but Western Digital seems to have been on a downward path for quite a long time....I'm not sure why they are still in business.

    Back in the early 90's, WD drives were OK, but seagate had a better reputation for anything important. Since then, they seem to have just languished - acquiring other companies products. Their enterprise/datacenter drives aren't that bad, but seagate still seems to rule the roost. On the consumer end, quality control has been quite hit or miss and despite their making ever larger drives at cheaper prices, I would never trust their drives with anything important.

    As for SSD's, their competition has really been for the last several years between intel vs samsung versus 3rd parties (kingston/seagate/etc). Does WD sell a lot of SSD's comparatively?

    • Western Digital seems to have been on a downward path for quite a long time....I'm not sure why they are still in business.

      Seagate had a real rough period a few years back. Their 1.5TB models especially had a lot of trouble. A lot of people are still boycotting them for that reason. Not sure how long your "long time" is.

      Boycotting manufacturers rather than models is pointless, but it's like banks. People get screwed and vow never to give money to X again, even though Y and Z are equally likely to screw them.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Seagate had a real rough period a few years back

        Few years back? I can't remember a time when Seagate wasn't having problems. Hell back in the 90's it was so bad that you could get factory sealed boxes(80 units) all DOA. And a few years later, the same thing happened again, and again in the 00's. It leads me to believe that Seagate operates on a "just good enough" margin of failure, and sometimes when they try to shave a few extra pennies per unit, it leads to multiple failures or multiple batch failures.

        • I was very happy with the first Seagate disk I owned. It lasted for longer than it was a useful size - for all I know, it still works, though there isn't much need for 40MB hard disks these days.
      • Seagate builds almost a million drives a day of various models. WD is right up there as well, some models are built down to a price to keep them cheap. If you're spending more than the bare minimum on the drives you're likely not going to have too many problems.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      WD has had the market share lead over Seagate for several years now, although they are fairly close.

      Western Digital has also been more willing to embrace SSDs than Seagate. They had some SSDs that were nothing ground breaking but they were available and more recently (Q2 2016) they've bought out Sandisk which gave them NAND fab capacity via Sandisk's joint venture with Toshiba.

      The last quarter I was able to find data for was Q3 2016 Western Digital is the second leading brand of SSDs (15.5% of market) behi

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @12:19AM (#53816831)
      WD has been buying up SSD companies - mostly small ones in the enterprise market. My brother-in-law (international trade lawyer) interviewed with one of these small SSD companies, rejected their offer, then got a job at WD. A year later, WD bought that SSD company and he got put in charge of prepping them for International sales.

      I would never trust their drives with anything important.

      Nobody with truly important data trusts any drives with anything important. Local and cloud storage have gotten so cheap it's trivial to have multiple backups and RAID redundancy. If I could have a nickel for every person who comes to me begging to help them recover data off a drive which stopped working... Often they're faced with paying a recovery service $500+, all because they were too cheap to spend $80 on an external backup drive, or $20 for a USB flash drive (need to refresh these every few years for maximum safety) or some blank DVDs.

      If you have a Gmail account, Google already gives you free unlimited cloud storage [google.com] of all your photos up to 16 MP. They also let you store videos for free, although I haven't been able to find what the limits are (used to be 15 minutes max per video, but I believe the new limit is just 1080p). If you have Amazon Prime, it also includes unlimited storage of any size photos [amazon.com]. And if you subscribe to Office 365, it includes 1 TB of cloud storage. Please, take advantage of these to back up the irreplaceable photos and videos of your wedding, your child's birth, your child's first steps, etc. It's disheartening having to tell people they will have to choose between recovering these precious memories and a half month's rent.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        WD has been buying up SSD companies

        They've also got a lot of more traditional stuff too - I believe WD bought over Toshiba's 3.5" hard drive business, and they also bought over Toshiba's NAND flash business very recently (a few weeks ago). (Remember, Toshiba invented NAND flash).

        Not sure what happens to OCZ, Sandisk, or DiskOnChip, the first Toshiba bought to have their line of SSDs, the second Toshiba acquired cheaply (Sandisk used Toshiba NAND anyways), and ditto DiskOnChip.

        • by dj245 ( 732906 )

          WD has been buying up SSD companies

          They've also got a lot of more traditional stuff too - I believe WD bought over Toshiba's 3.5" hard drive business, and they also bought over Toshiba's NAND flash business very recently (a few weeks ago). (Remember, Toshiba invented NAND flash).

          Not sure what happens to OCZ, Sandisk, or DiskOnChip, the first Toshiba bought to have their line of SSDs, the second Toshiba acquired cheaply (Sandisk used Toshiba NAND anyways), and ditto DiskOnChip.

          This has a lot less to do with WD going shopping and more to do with Toshiba's financial problems leading to a yard sale.

    • WD is the largest and most profitable HDD vendor. Of course they have been buying others, when you're that big why wouldn't you buy your way into every segment.

    • I know it is only anecdotal, but I have mostly WD drives (all mechanical), as I have had the best experience with them, and had bad luck with Seagate in particular.

      I have a 320GB and a 500GB(ish?) external WD. Both have been hauled around in a laptop bag on airplanes and helicopters for years. Still work great. Have much newer 1.5TG and 2TB WD externals which have done the same, but not as long. I have (desktop external) 320GB, 750GB, 2TB and 4TB WD models (you can kind of guess the ages by the sizes) all s

  • by labnet ( 457441 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @09:27PM (#53816151)

    I'm interested to know what /.ers opinions are on PCIe and RAID.

    We run SATA SSDs as RAID1 or RAID6 in our servers and support for PCIe RAID is not great yet.
    Are PCIe drives so reliable now, as to not needing RAID?

    • by dmesg0 ( 1342071 )

      Software RAIDs (e.g, md or raidz) don't care if its SATA, SAS or PCIe, they only need the block devices.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I think the larger problem with nvme RAID is holding enough modules to get any capacity. There's only so many keyed slots. Do they make a 16x PCIe card that will take 4 nvme sticks at a time?

        Nvme is wicked fast but it's difficult to get it to scale up in capacity with redundancy because of connectivity limitations. Do they make any cabinets that take nvme modules? Connected via SAS-12 it might not be too bad.

        • by dmesg0 ( 1342071 )

          Yes, there are PCIe cards with 4 m.2 slots (e.g. https://www.servethehome.com/the-dell-4x-m-2-pcie-x16-version-of-the-hp-z-turbo-quad-pro/ [servethehome.com]).
          And there are plenty of rack servers with internal PCIe switches for up to 24 U.2 (2.5") devices.

          • by swb ( 14022 )

            I guess I'm still left wondering how you scale this out to 10s/100s and more terabytes the way you would with 'ordinary' SAS/SATA drives and an expansion bus and enclosures. I would think that at some level of stripe depth with SAS bus flash disk you're getting very large scaling while still delivering throughput and latency competitive with nvme for all but the most corner usage cases.

    • Re:PCIe RAID (Score:4, Informative)

      by nuckfuts ( 690967 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @10:49PM (#53816531)

      Are PCIe drives so reliable now, as to not needing RAID?

      Personally, I never want a single point-of-failure in my storage system, no matter how reliable the devices are. Good NVMe SSD drives aren't cheap though, so I can imagine people running them without RAID if they're very confident about their backups and can withstand a bit of downtime.

      What I find really interesting though is pushing the limits of performance by striping two or more of these drives together in RAID 0.

      You're right, however, that hardware support for PCIe RAID is not really there yet.

    • SAS PCIe and software raid is the way to go these days.

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