Samsung is mass producing fifth-gen 256Gb V-NAND that could speed up SSDs

Faster solid state drives could be on the horizon. To help make that happen, Samsung has begun mass producing its fifth generation of 3D V-NAND flash memory chips with faster data transfer rates than the previous generation.

These new chips pack "more than 90" layers (AnandTech says the precise number is 96) in a pyramid structure with microscopic channel holes vertically drilled throughout. That's up from 64 layers in the previous generation.

"This state-of-the-art memory fabrication is the result of several breakthroughs that include advanced circuit designs and new process technologies," Samsung says.

Perhaps the most significant upgrade is the move to a Toggle DDR 4.0 interface, which is an industry first. This allows the chips to transmit data between storage and memory at 1.4Gbps, a 40 percent increase over its 64-layer chips. Samsung also reduced the operating voltage from 1.8V to 1.2V to make up for the increased power consumption that the faster interface speed introduces.

"The new V-NAND also has the fastest data write speed to date at 500-microseconds (μs), which represents about a 30-percent improvement over the write speed of the previous generation, while the response time to read-signals has been significantly reduced to 50μs," Samsung added. (Note that Samsung is referring to NAND speeds here, as Intel and Micron's 3D XPoint Technology still has lower latencies.)

What all this boils down to is faster components for the next generation of SSDs. it will be up to storage makers to pair these chips up with capable controllers, and since Samsung is very much active in the SSD space, we expect to see speedier solutions before long.

It also begs the question of how much faster V-NAND matters for moderns PCs. For certain datacenter workloads, faster storage is a requirement, but home PCs already see diminishing returns from the fastest M.2 NVMe drives. Plus, Samsung likely needs a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface if it wants to improve much on the already incredibly fast 970 Pro.