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STEC boosts MLC endurance to 40,000 cycles

STEC boosts MLC endurance to 40,000 cycles

STEC's CellCare Technology promises to boost the endurance of consumer-grade MLC NAND flash by around 13 times.

Solid-state storage specialist STEC has announced a technology it claims can boost the endurance of consumer-grade 24nm multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash to that of enterprise-grade single-level cell (SLC) flash.

According to the company's internal testing, its CellCare Technology - a proprietary blend of hardware and firmware designed to extend endurance with per-die flash parameter tracking and advanced error correction - is capable of boosting the the lifespan of consumer-grade MLC NAND flash to 40,000 program/erase cycles.

Considering that the average MLC NAND flash memory module is rated to 3,000 program/erase cycles, that's no mean feat and promises to bring the cost of enterprise-grade solid-state storage down to a more reasonable level.

'The results of the 24nm cMLC [consumer multi-level cell] endurance testing, performed at our San Diego R&D centre, are testimony that the solid flash management algorithms and digital signal processing/error correction code within our patented CellCare Technology bring true enterprise-class capabilities to consumer-grade flash memory,' boasted Pablo Ziperovich, STEC's vice president in charge of flash channel development, at the announcement.

'We have now tested the use of lower-cost 24 nm cMLC NAND with our CellCare Technology to withstand the rigorous workload environments of enterprise storage applications—specifically, to provide for 40,000 program/erase cycles.'

STEC's testing, which conformed to JEDEC standards, saw the company perform the equivalent of ten full-capacity random writes to the prototype drives every day for five years while testing data retention at 40 degrees Celsius for three months. The tests, STEC claims, were the equivalent of writing 7.4 petabytes (7.4PB) of data to a 400GB SSD.

The first products to use the CellCare Technology in conjunction with consumer-grade MLC flash will be enterprise-grade drives offered at a significant discount over their traditional SLC-based counterparts.

The company's technology holds significant promise for consumer-grade hardware, too: fitted with CellCare, a consumer-grade drive would enjoy a lifespan some thirteen times longer than that of its CellCare-less counterparts - a significant selling point in a market where solid-state storage still fetches a significant cost-per-gigabyte premium over its spinning-platter competition.

STEC has yet to announce pricing or availability for its cMLC-based drives, except to say that production is due to begin later this year.

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