What are the Different Varieties of Flash Technology?

Different Varieties of Flash Technology

Everywhere we look today we see and use flash storage technology. From mobile devices to data center’s servers, flash memory technology touches all our lives. However, flash technology has only begun and is in its early stages of evolution. Today, flash storage offers many different types and it is critical that you choose the right one for your particular applications.

In the past flash technology was considered too expensive to use for large applications, but today it is starting to reach the economic tipping point. Today, IT departments now consider flash storage to replace their disk storage units. Business owners see the cost of solid state storage going down and started using flash storage based on the economics of performance. However, companies still find it hard to choose the right flash solution. When selecting flash memory you need to understand that each flash has its own nuances. There are pros and cons for each flash-based on their configuration within your hardware. Plus, each flash has pre-destined performance configured by the manufacture.

How To Understand The Different Flash And What Matters When Blend Different Ingredients Of Flash Together?

  1. Flash basics: There are three different types of NAND flash; SLC, MLC, and TLC. Flash memory or flash storage writes to cells. Flash differs by how many bits can be written to each cell. SLC flash has a single-level cell that writes one byte to each cell. Where MLC is a multi-level cell and writes two bits to each cell. Finally, TLC is a triple-level cell and writes three bits to each cell. Each type of flash has different characteristics, performance, cost and endurance.
  2. Flash for enterprises: SLC flash has the longest lifespan, offers the highest performance, and is the most expensive. The SLC flash is used by enterprises in highly specialized applications. Where the TLC flash is the least expensive, has the shortest lifespan, higher error rate, and is the least expensive. The TLC flash is found or used in low-cost consumer electronics. However, the MLC flash is the most commonly used flash today. The flash offers better performance, lower error rate than TLC flash, and the cost is lower than SLC flash.
  3. eMLC flash storage: MLC storage has three different sub-categories; eMLC and cMLC. The eMLC are for enterprises and the cMLC is for consumer use. The eMLC and cMLC still use MLC technology that offers higher performance, lower cost, and longer life. The products that use MLC flash offer you different levels of endurance and performance depending on the flash architect. Therefore, your results can vary from manufacture to manufacture and how it is implemented.
  4. MLC flash becomes faster with age: To understand the difference between MLC SSD and enterprise MLC array, you need to understand what happens to flash when it is used to the limit. Flash memory has a limit to the number of times a cell can be written to. Traditional HDDs fails when the drive encounters mechanical wear. However, flash fails when they reach their write limit. Inside a flash SSD they store a small number of dies. Dies are the area where the cells exist. But, in enterprise flash arrays, they store thousands of dies and are protected through redundancy. As flash ages the flash gets faster as it wears. Unlike mechanical drives, the longer they are in use the slower they become.
  5. Flash hardware configuration: The architectural structure matters when using flash technology. Flash uses SSDs or flash drives that look and act like HDD. This hardware design makes it easy for enterprises to install flash drives into their existing systems. But, on the other hand, this is a poor way to design flash into your network. When integrating flash into your network use systems that are designed for flash storage. This gives your network better performance when your system has an optimal combination of failover redundancy and flash storage. This gives you higher reliability and lower latency than a system you have just added flash to.

Image: flickr.com

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