Micron has announced that it will deploy triple level cell (TLC) NAND in its 5100 Series, marking the first time any company has used TLC NAND in an enterprise product. Typically, enterprise and many consumer drives are based on multi-level cell (MLC) NAND, which stores two bits of information per cell. TLC drives can store three bits of information per cell, but these drives are typically only capable of a fraction of the program/erase cycles that MLC drives can offer. What makes Micron’s drives different is that the company is using 3D NAND flash instead of traditional 2D (planar) NAND.
Micron isn’t just using TLC — it’s baked in some tricks to make the drives more attractive to the enterprise crowd. For one thing, the entire 5100 Series (5100 Eco, Pro, and Max) are all substantially overprovisioned. The density-focused 5100 Eco has the lowest spare area, at 15% of drive capacity, and the lowest random write speeds, but is expected to sell for 45-55 cents per GB. At the other end of the spectrum you’ve got the 5100 Max, which is overprovisioned by up to 60% and is expected to sell for 65-75 cents per GB (capacities on the 5100 family range from 240GB – 1920GB depending).
I saw an article on their 8TB model last night, comparing them to a setup of 10K HDDs. It is nice to see another company has truly competitive flash and controllers to compete with Samsung.