MLC to replace SLC flash memory in 5 years, says Dell
Cheaper MLC flash storage will replace SLC in the next five years, says Dell's VP and GM of Storage Alan Atkinson. Atkinson was speaking at the unveiling of the company's Compellent SC280 storage server at the Dell Enterprise Forum held in San Jose this week. SLC stands for single-level cell, and MLC for multi-level cell. The latter offers a significantly longer write lifespan, but is much more expensive.
"When you start factoring in TLC [triple-level cell] and a number of other technologies out there, I look at a five-year window for solid-state technology and we are at the beginning of that process," said Atkinson to V3 when asked about the continuing relevance of SLC NAND flash memory. "SLC is still the most reliable technology out there, that I am aware, and has very capable performance characteristics but just happens to be really, really expensive."
Indeed, enterprise flash memory vendors have largely steered away from using SLC NAND chips in anything but selective, higher-end products. Even Seagate stuck mainly to MLC NAND when it introduced its full range of SSD offerings at Computex in Taipei, Taiwan this week.
Dell is hedging its bets for now though, as the Compellent SC280 allows users to mix both SLC and MLC flash storage. According to Atkinson, Dell uses more durable write-resistant MLC modules in its SSD drives, and also utilizes software to spread writes across multiple drives to prolong the usable lifespan of each drive.