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SK hynix began sampling 128 layers of 3D NAND SSD

November 26, 2019


SK hynix announced this week that it has started sampling products based on its 128-layer 3D NAND flash memory, which will soon start appearing on end-user devices.A year ago, they launched 96-tier, fifth-generation 3D NAND, but the low price prompted them to cut production, and fourth-generation 72L 3D NAND is still their main flash memory product

SK Hynix announced back in June that its 128L 3D NAND has moved from development to mass production and is now integrated into SSD and UFS modules and has made samples available to key customers.

SK Hynix's 128L promises to further increase the speed from 1.2GT/s to 1.4GT/s (although the first round may not be possible due to lagging controller support), and features an industry-leading 1Tb debut (128GB) capacity TLC chip.In the short term, SK hynix plans to introduce a new generation of 3D NAND into the highest-margin segments, while its more mature 72-tier and 96-tier processes will continue to focus on more cost-sensitive products


SK Hynix used eight of these 128L 1Tb TLC molds to develop the 1Tb USF 3.1 module with a thickness of only 1mm.They expect smartphones that use such storage to begin mass production in the second half of 2020


In the customer SSD market, oems have now enabled SK Hynix's latest generation m.2 NVMe SSD with up to 2 terabytes of capacity and approximately 3W of power consumption, compared to the previous generation SSD with 96L TLC of 6W.SK Hynix expects these SSDS to begin appearing in laptops in the first half of 2020.

SK Hynix's NVMe SSD controllers still use PCIe 3.0 instead of PCIe 4.0, which is not surprising as they focus on mainstream market segments and energy efficiency.This SSD is described as running flash memory at a 1.2GT/s interface at a 1.2V voltage, so SK Hynix's chips are not actually running at 1.4GT/s as planned, or they are flinch a bit to save power.


The 128L 3D NAND will take longer to enter the enterprise storage market.SK Hynix plans to provide up to 16TB of capacity in EDSFF e1.l size;Mass production of these drives is planned for the second half of 2020.Like the client NVMe SSD, SK Hynix is still using PCIe 3.0 instead of PCIe 4.0, but they plan to provide support for the latest NVMe 1.4 protocol.

SSD market is SK hynix focus on the key areas.The arrival and cost-effectiveness of their 72-tier enterprise solid state drives helped them increase their market share to 10.3 percent in the second quarter of this year from 1.8 percent in the same period last year, and they hope to keep that momentum going

SK Hynix controller is used in all products except SK Hynix memory (NAND and DRAM).They are one of only three companies with the ability to integrate vertically, and samsung has been demonstrating the power of this strategy for years.Previous generations of SK Hynix's 3D NAND have been stymied by poor execution, but recently it appears they are catching up.