Intel to Use Enterprise MLC in Next-Gen Enterprise Solid-State Drives

Intel Reshapes Solid-State Drive Roadmap: 25nm Flash Everywhere

by Anton Shilov
06/15/2010 | 09:38 PM

Intel Corp. has redesigned its solid-state drives roadmap in a bid to utilize more flash memory produced using 25nm fabrication technology at IM Flash foundries. The company also decided not to use multi-level cell (MLC) flash memory for Enterprise-series solid-state drives (SSDs), but utilize the so-called enterprise MLC (eMLC) flash chips in a bid to improve reliability and lifespan of devices.


The reshaped roadmap seen by X-bit labs postpones introduction of code-named Lyndonville solid-state drives for enterprise markets to Q1 2011 from the last quarter of this year. However, thanks to such delay, the new drives will utilize eMLC NAND made using 25nm process technology, which has considerably higher amount of write cycles than traditional MLC, even though single-level cell (SLC) NAND still boasts even higher number of write cycles. Previously Intel planned to use 34nm MLC flash for Lyndonville drives that will succeed currently available SLC-based X25-E family of SSDs. As a result of switch to MLC type of flash, Lyndonville drives will be available in 400GB, 200GB and 100GB capacities.

Even though specifications of 25nm eMLC flash are not presently available, 34nm eMLC NAND from Micron, Intel’s partner in IM Flash achieved 30 thousand write cycles – a 6x increase in endurance when compared to standard MLC NAND. In addition, last year Micron also introduced a 34nm SLC Enterprise (eSLC) NAND device that achieves 300 thousand write cycles – a 3x increase in endurance when compared to standard SLC NAND.

In addition, Intel slightly changed its plans for consumer SSDs code-named Postville Refresh that are based on 25nm MLC flash. In Q4 2010 the company intends to release the new lineup of X25-M drives with 600GB, 300GB, 160GB and [not planned previously] 80GB capacities as well as X18-M SSD in 1.8” form-factor with 80GB of storage space, which was not previously planned. Meanwhile, X18-M drives with 300GB and 160GB capacities will only be available in Q1 2011, a quarter behind the original schedule.

Quite interestingly, but Intel decided not to introduce value X25-V 80GB SSDs either in Q4 2010 or Q1 2011 and instead of it the firm plans to release X25-V 40GB drive with 25nm MLC NAND.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.