Samsung Now Producing Twice-as-Fast 512GB UFS 3.0 Chips

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They may not have debuted in time for the Galaxy S10SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce unveil, but Samsung has announced it’ll be turbo-charging storage performance on future devices, courtesy of its new 512GB UFS 3.0 embedded flash drives.

UFS (Universal Flash Storage) UFS boosts maximum bandwidth per lane up to 1450MB/s, with up to two lanes. Previously, the maximum bandwidth per lane was 600MB/s. Total available bandwidth has therefore increased to 2900MB/s, up from 1200MB/s. The company intends to bring 128GB and 512GB products to market first, with 256GB/1TB devices debuting in the second half of 2019. The 512GB edition has already been slated for the Galaxy Fold, and it’s not crazy to think that the 256GB/1TB flavors could tip up in the Galaxy Note 10.

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Samsung’s newest UFS solution uses its 5th generation 96-layer V-NAND and a proprietary controller to support a UFS 3.0 two-lane interface. The 128GB device uses two 96-layer chips while the 512GB flavor uses eight. Sequential read speeds are up to 2100MB/s, though sequential write performance is only a fraction as high, at 410MB/s. Still, we’ve reached the point where even smartphones can claim to offer write performance equivalent to SATA-based SSDs. That’s no small feat.

Back in 2011, a rather interesting study demonstrated that NAND flash had a significant impact on device performance and overall customer satisfaction. A 2016 follow-up to that work found that storage I/O specifically accounted for between 7-20 percent of the latency that end-users experienced in applications, though this varied depending on the app. Camera work was particularly sensitive to storage I/O as you might expect, with 70 percent of latency in this app being attributed to storage performance.

Hitting performance targets like this in smartphones could leave one wondering exactly where the bar goes from here. We’re closing in on performance standards that debuted in PCs only about seven years ago. True, NVMe has boosted PCIe performance higher — PCIe 4.0, when it debuts, should nearly double throughput without requiring additional lanes — but we’ve still reached a point where the storage performance of mobile devices seems to be accelerating faster than the workloads that go with it.

Then again, now that I’ve typed that, someone is going to stick a 200MP camera on the front of a phone and it’ll be off to the races. And because these performance improvements are functionally tied to capacity improvements, it’s unlikely consumer appetites for them will wane any time soon.

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