Solid State Drives: Enabling MLC Technology in the Enterprise
Report No. FI-NFL-SSD-1109, November 2009
The unparalleled cost effectiveness of multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash technology has enabled
it to pervade a wide range of applications despite having much slower performance and one-tenth the
endurance of single-level cell technology (SLC). This year, MLC along with its lower cost cousin,
3-bit per cell technology will account for over 90% of the gigabytes shipped in 2009.
Due to demanding performance workloads, SLC technology has been the technology of choice for SSDs
in enterprise computing environment. Therefore, it came as a surprise when in August of this year, STEC,
the leading enterprise SSD vendor announced that it will offer MLC-based enterprise SSDs. However, STEC
is not the first vendor to move to MLC technology in the enterprise. That distinction goes to Fusion IO
which released a 320GB PCIe MLC ioDrive in April 2008. Fusion IO went a step further when it announced
SLMLC, a technology based on MLC technology which combines the endurance and performance of SLC at a
significantly lower $/GB than SLC.
Are these products aimed at niche applications or do they suggest the beginnings of broader adoption
of MLC technology in SSDs in the enterprise space? Solid State Drives: Enabling MLC Technology in the
Enterprise provides a thoughtful analysis of SSD usage models and what applications could conceivably
be addressed by MLC technology.
In addition, a detailed examination of SSD adoption in notebook, low cost mobile and desktop PCs
An excel spreadsheet of all the data in the report along with a the report in .pdf format is provided.
Table of Contents