Western Digital today announced that it has successfully developed four bit-per-cell (also known as X4) 3D NAND built using 64-layer, BiCS3 technology. The company says that these chips can store 768 gigabits on a single chip (equivalent to 96GB), which is a 50% increase from 512 gigabit three bit-per-cell NAND (as basic math verifies).
WD's X4 3D NAND was designed with the help of the company's work with X4 2D NAND, and one thing in particular the company is really proud of is the fact that its QLC flash delivers performance similar to that of X3 three bit-per-cell NAND. What that means is that consumers shouldn't fret too much over performance, but instead focus on the extra storage they're getting. We're not quite sure how longevity would be affected by four vs. three bit-per-cell; it's not something Western Digital has commented on.
We write a lot about memory technologies, and we often ask ourselves whatever happens to most of them, but WD's X4 3D NAND should be making an appearance on store shelves within the next year, although no official dates have been mentioned. The company does say that it will be showing off SSDs using the NAND at next month's Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, Calfornia - a premier storage industry event, where WD happens to be a Premier sponsor.
If this announcement somehow doesn't make you excited, bear in mind that this development paves the way for 96-layer BiCS4 down-the-road, providing even more storage per chip. It seems like WD is very aware that SSDs for data storage are going to remain popular in the future, although the future where it's "common" is probably still quite far off.