ssd 120gb Flash cost collapse SSD unified consumer storage? HDD turns to the enterprise market with new technologies

ssd 120gb Flash cost collapse SSD unified consumer storage? HDD turns to the enterprise market with new technologies

ssd 120gb Flash cost collapse SSD unified consumer storage? HDD turns to the enterprise market with new technologies

ssd 120gb
ssd 120gb

solid disksSSD OEMssd 120gb Flash oversupply is already a given factssd 120gb+8618750919058, the storage industry has promoted the 3D transformation of flash manufacturing processes in the past two or three yearsssd 120gb+ 8618750919058, so that the production capacity has been greatly expanded, the impact is reached, the offer of flash memory is also killed quickly, of course, for the flash memory industry, I am afraid that it will usher in an inevitable blood war, but for terminal manufacturers, it is good news. In particular, SSD (solid-state drive) industry, is more likely to take advantage of this wave of flash memory cost declines to quickly seize the mainstream storage position in the PC and consumer markets.

| Flash quotes have recently collapsed due to fierce competition, SSD manufacturer Yu Wongdeli. Source: China’s flash memory market

hdD (mechanical hard disk) has dominated the mainstream storage technology for decades, because the unit storage cost is relatively low, and the performance is also better than the same period of storage technology, such as floppy disk or optical disk is better and popular, and in the past with the rise of the Internet era of various types of video download demand, but with the advancement of SSD (solid state drive) technology, As well as the rise of network streaming, the application problems faced by it are also increasing.

First of all, there is limited progress in transmission speed and random reading capacity, and because of the innate physical limitations of mechanical HDDs, it is very difficult to improve the read and write speed.

in addition, although in the traditional view, mechanical HDDs have high storage capacity and the lowest cost per unit storage, which is the main reason why optical storage or semiconductor storage has been difficult to challenge its market position in the past. However, in terms of semiconductor storage, that is, solid-state HDDs, due to the improvement of the manufacturing process, the basic storage unit of solid-state HDDs, that is, NAND flash memory, the manufacturing cost per unit of storage capacity has been rapidly reduced, making the storage cost per gigabyte decline rapidly, almost reaching the level of collapse, and making the traditional mechanical HDD feel the pressure mountain.

Of course, traditional HDD manufacturers such as Seagate, in order to avoid being eliminated by the market, also actively strengthen the storage capacity and performance of HDD itself, Seagate launched based HAMR thermal auxiliary magnetic recording technology, WD plans to introduce MAMR microwave-assisted magnetic recording technology, to increase the storage capacity of a single HDD by several orders of magnitude, hoping to continue to maintain the advantages of HDD storage cost per GB. However, the general trend has become a reality, and the future HDD to enterprise application development has been a direction that has to be taken.

chart| through the development of the new generation of magnetic storage technology, the future gap in the cost per unit capacity of HDDs and SSDs should have the opportunity to maintain a magic number of 10 times. Image source: WD

Under the impetus of new technologies, HDDs still have considerable room for development in specific commercial storage applications, such as near-line and offline storage needs in servers, and the video storage needs of various types of surveillance industries, or the storage needs of filmmakers after video editing, are dominated by hdDs that win with capacity.

figure| ultra-thin notebook computers are trendy, and HDDs in such products have basically no living space. Image source: HP

However, in the consumer market, due to the most mainstream HDD storage applications in the past, that is, the download and storage of network video has become less popular, video streaming services have been replaced, and consumers’ demand for storing videos on the local side has also been greatly reduced, on the other hand, like laptops are becoming more and more thin and light, traditional HDDs basically have no way to enter the interior of this thin and light computer organization.

On the other hand, for consumers, the operation response of the computer depends on the choice of storage system, SSD because of its continuous and random transmission performance of the huge advantages, in the system response capacity is far better than HDD, and the future with the increase of bus bandwidth, SSD transmission performance may continue to extend upwards, but HDD because of the characteristics of the innate mechanical structure, basically and high-speed storage, for consumers, The speed of system response will also be the key to affecting their choice of storage media, and consumers who have used SSDs are unlikely to go back and endure the turtle speed of HDDs.

Finally, the flash memory market has entered an oversupply, the surge in SSD capacity and the collapse of prices are already happening, although the capacity of SSDs in the enterprise market is still small, in addition to online can not be expanded to nearline and offline storage, but in the consumer market that does not require massive storage, the living space of HDDs will also be further squeezed, and HDDs will probably disappear in the consumer market in the future.

the flash memory used in SSDs has almost always moved towards the 3D process, it is true that the 3D process is much more expensive in terms of manufacturing cost than the traditional flat process, and its yield rate is also worse than the general 2D process, but the 3D process has an advantage, that is, its ability to accommodate many layers can greatly increase the capacity on the same chip layout.

currently stores related semiconductor parts, whether it is flash memory, or storage, its pricing method is basically based on capacity units as the pricing method, in other words, if the same process basis to achieve higher unit capacity, then can create higher profits.

and each layer of the 3D process is superimposed, the capacity of the same area can be doubled, in the mainstream of the 64 layers, the same chip area can reach the original 2D process of 64 times the storage capacity, if not used 3D process, but the use of traditional 2D process, and through the process of miniature way to increase the unit area capacity, to reach 64 times, I am afraid that you must use the process below 1nm, It is basically unlikely that it will be achieved at a reasonable cost in the foreseeable future.

the traditional 2D process is dominated by lithography, nodes below 20nm usually require multiple multiple exposure and development steps, of course, with the advancement of lithography equipment, single development, and even node scaling have gradually become possible, in other words, the driving force from one node to the next node mainly comes from the improvement of lithography tools. When upgrading lithography tools, it is common to use the current tool to trade in for an improved tool, thereby reducing conversion costs.

but this 2D process improvement is actually very expensive, and different generations of lithography technology in the manufacturing efficiency is also different, to the progress of the 2D process to achieve the improvement of unit storage costs, but the progress of the 2D process is gradually stepping, 10nm below the process development of the capital cost and technology accumulation is not general semiconductor chip manufacturers can afford, take TSMC as an example, it is 7nm The capital invested in the development of the process is nearly tens of billions of dollars, 5nm will even invest more than 25 billion US dollars, although the process for DRAM/NAND is not the same as the process used in the logic chip, the technical requirements are slightly lower, but it is still a considerable payment, and the cost of future technology innovation and investment will only be slower and more expensive because of the limitations of semiconductor physical characteristics.

on the other hand, the micro-refinement of the 2D process will actually have a negative impact on the reliability of flash memory, because the lattice structure of flash memory must have sufficient thickness to maintain electrical characteristics, if too thin, these structures may be punctured by electrons during the read and write process, resulting in permanent loss of data, which is also called wear.

since 2D does not work, it has to turn to 3D stacking, which is already a common manufacturing technology for flash memory used in SSDs or various memory cards.

diagram| the cost structure of a 16nm planar 128GB capacity TCL compared to a 384GB capacity TLC manufactured on a 32-layer 3D process, although each wafer is nearly 2 times more expensive, but the cost per GIgabyte is only about half. Source: Objective Analysis

the above figure shows that under the 32-layer 3D process, the cost of the 3D process is about 2 times higher than that of the traditional 2D planar process, and in the case of the 64 layer, according to the calculations made by Micron, the cost of the same wafer is increased by about 5 times, which is also the trial result after the yield is added, and after the yield improvement, the cutting rate available for the single wafer will also increase. The cost per unit of capacity will fall further.

In addition, 3D stacking usually uses a more backward process, such as a 32nm or 28nm process, one is lower cost, and the second is that the lattice of flash memory can be maintained at a more reasonable thickness, which has obvious benefits for improving the service life of flash memory.

if calculated at normal available yield, the cost of flash memory starting at layer 32 will gradually widen from the flash memory of the flat process, and as the number of layers increases, the cost gap will become larger and larger. Of course, the yield after 32 layers is actually very difficult to improve, when Samsung and other flash memory manufacturers in the 64 layer process in order to improve the yield, spent nearly two years, due to the low yield, in order to meet the customer’s order demand, it is necessary to make up for the lack of yield through mass production, resulting in abnormal consumption of silicon wafers (silicon wafers used in flash memory account for nearly 40% of all chip manufacturing applications), which is also one of the main reasons for the shortage of silicon wafers since the second half of 2016.

since the second half of 2017, the major flash memory manufacturers have basically reached a very high yield in the 64-layer process, and in 2018, they have also developed towards 96 or even 128 layers.

because of the improvement of manufacturing processes and yields, flash memory costs in the second half of 2018 has a significant downward trend, and even major flash memory manufacturers, including Samsung, LG, Hynix, etc., in the case of full inventory, are also brewing to control the speed of expansion, but the trend of multi-layering 3D processes remains unchanged, even if the expansion rate of equipment slows down, but the growth of unit storage capacity cannot be stopped, and therefore, The trend of price killing in the next few years may already be a trend that cannot be reversed, but this is the norm in the production and storage industry, and the industry is accustomed to it.

diagram | the cost gap between different processes, the cost per GI of 32 layers is 30% lower than that of the flat process, and the cost of 64 layers is 30% lower than that of 32 layers. Image source: Micron

| As the number of layers stacked with 3D flash memory increases, the gap between the cost of storage per unit and the flat process will continue to decline, and the future flash memory may no longer use the 2D process. Image source: Micron

Due to the rapid maturity of the 3D process, the cost of flash memory has collapsed, and the SSD capacity based on flash memory has been rising while the price has repeatedly reached a new low, although there is still a distance from the average capacity of HDD, but in the limited demand for large-capacity data storage in general consumer categories, the cost performance has gradually caught up with HDD. The inherent high-speed performance of SSDs can greatly improve the user experience for consumers.

and we can also see from the financial reports of major HDD suppliers that HDD sales in the consumer market are also declining, and most sales are going to enterprise or cloud customers. Instead, sales of SSDs for the consumer market are increasing.

chart| the trend of storage cost per unit and performance, it can also be seen that SSD has an absolute advantage in performance, and the cost is constantly approaching HDD, accelerating the entire replacement process. Image source: WD Blog

the two main HDD suppliers in the current market, namely Seagate and WD, still embrace HDD technology in the market and look forward to maintaining their application life through technological changes. However, Seagate and WD still have considerable differences in product structure, at present, nearly 90% of Seagate’s revenue is still from HDD, in contrast, WD, HDD only accounts for less than half of the revenue, both of which regard SSD as an important strategic development goal in the future, but Seagate’s flash memory needs to rely on external supply, and WD has mass-produced 64 layers of 3D flash memory, and 96 layers of products have also been on the string.

and the future market goal of HDD has almost all shifted to enterprise applications, supplemented by the consumer market, and capacity has become the biggest weapon.

and Seagate and WD’s new technologies for the future HDD market are as follows:


Heat-AssistedMagnetic Recording (HAMR)—Thermal-Assisted Magnetic Recording:

diagram| Seagate’s HAMR technology, the future capacity expansion space is very large, but the cost is high. Source: Seagate

General HDDs use magnetic principles to record data, but with the increase of magnetic density, it will make it more and more difficult to stabilize the data, which makes the current HDD magnetic density specifications grow more and more slowly. In order to increase the magnetic density while maintaining the stability of the data, Seagate has proposed HAMR (Heat-AssistedMagnetic Recording) thermal-assisted magnetic recording many years ago, which uses a laser to accurately focus the area where the data will be written, heat the medium, and avoid superparamagnetism in the magnetic medium. After the disk is heated to the Curiepoint by the laser, the magnetic plate loses its magnetism and superparamagnetic effect, and after the data is written, the disk will cool down rapidly and the written data will stabilize. With this precise heating, HAMR can significantly increase the write density of the drive.

theoretically the ultimate storage density achieved with this technique can reach 10TB/psi. As far as Seagate officially says, HDD capacity specifications based on HAMR technology have a good chance of reaching more than 70TB in 2019.

but the HAMR principle is easy to say, but it is not so simple to implement, HAMR requires a new storage medium, a redesigned laser read and write head, a special NFT near-field optical sensor and a large number of other new state components, so the technology has been introduced for so many years, there is no way to achieve commercial mass production. However, Seagate seems to have made a breakthrough in technology, and recently announced that the first HAMR technology HDD is expected to be launched at the end of the year or early next year.

WD:Microwave-AssistedMagneticRecording (MAMR)—Microwave-assisted magnetic record:

Figure |WD’s MAMR technology Benefits are fewer key parts, lower manufacturing costs, but smaller capacity. Image source: WD

Scientists at Hitachi Storage have invented another auxiliary magnetic recording technology, that is, microwave-assisted magnetic recording, to improve write density from another technical point of view. Later, WD acquired Hitachi Storage in 2012 and naturally accepted this technology.

microwave auxiliary magnetic recording is to use the microwave field to act on the magnetic moment, in order to improve the reversal speed of the magnetic moment and reduce the reversal field at the same time, when the magnetic moment precesses under the action of the magnetic field, there will be a resonant frequency, the microwave auxiliary magnetic recording technology is to properly use this resonance frequency, in the process of magnetic moment reversal precession, the auxiliary microwave magnetic field is applied, to promote the rapid reversal of the magnetic moment. Its core component is the Spin Torque Oscillator, through which it can generate suitable microwaves. With MAMR technology, the theoretical density of discs can reach up to 4TB/square inch.

because the key components of MAMR are only spin magnetic moment oscillators, the complexity and production cost are much lower than that of thermally assisted magnetic recording technology, but its capacity amplification capacity is slightly inferior to Seagate’s HAMR technology. WD also plans to launch HDDs based on MAMR technology in 2019, and the maximum capacity is expected to exceed 40TB.

Although the cost per unit of HDD storage still has the opportunity to maintain a relatively low-end advantage after the introduction of new technologies, the storage capacity actually has its marginal benefits, which is no longer attractive to consumers after a certain degree, but the transmission performance of the storage will become the key, and the technical gap and SSD in this regard of HDD will only become worse and worse.

but HDD is not useless, the future of large-capacity HDD in the server can play the role of near-line and offline storage, because such applications do not require too fast speed, so it is expected to replace the function of traditional tape drives, for the industry to bring better and more reliable data redundancy capabilities. solid disksSSD OEMssd 120gb