The Future of SSDs
X-bit labs: Will you develop your own controllers for own SSDs eventually, or will you continue to rely on third party controllers and in-house firmware?
Joel Hagberg: Toshiba is always looking to integrate the best controller technology into its SSDs. The company uses its own controller design in a range of the current Toshiba SSD offerings today. We are open to both internal and external controllers to maximize performance, reliability, time to market and cost effectiveness.
X-bit labs: Currently you use SLC NAND flash for enterprise SSDs. I wonder whether you plan to develop special versions of multi-level cell NAND flash memory with better endurance for your enterprise solid-state offerings.
Joel Hagberg: There is a requirement for both types of NAND in the enterprise segment. Depending on workload requirements and application types, one type of NAND may be a better fit compared to another type. Using enterprise grade eMLC NAND also helps with the cost metric, and provides higher capacities. In the end, it depends on the write endurance you need.
X-bit labs: Are there any chances that developers of operating systems will address wear leveling issues of SSDs? Or will optimize OSs for SSDs by other means? When is this expected to happen?
Joel Hagberg: That is a question better answered by the developers of operating systems.
X-bit labs: Are there chances that the market of SSDs will commoditize any time soon
Joel Hagberg: Industry analysts firms such as Gartner and IDC are better sources for answering this question.
X-bit labs: But maybe you have your own opinion? Are there price wars on the market of SSDs? Have you felt the price pressure from your competitors in the retail or other (OEM, channel, etc.) markets?
Joel Hagberg: The NAND memory community is continuing to develop new technology which will improve capacity and lower cost per GB in each lithography change. As we move to SSDs based upon 1x nm NAND, we will enable higher capacity and lower cost SSDs. However, there are significant costs required to increase NAND FAB capacity and technical challenges must be overcome to make lithography changes. Because of this, there will continue to be a significant difference between the cost per GB of SSDs and HDDs. In conclusion, even though SSD prices will continue to drop over time, they will not approach the commodity storage range of hard disk drives for a very long time.