128TB SSD by 2018? Toshiba promises much, delivers ... a little

Fat solid state flash drive for the masses?

IFA 2015 "By 2018, SSD technology including 3D Flash could reach up to 128TB", Toshiba storage product manager Paul Han Lin told The Register today at IFA in Berlin.

Toshiba has announced two new SSD drives this week. The Q300 Pro has a capacity from 128GB to 512GB and is aimed at the professional market, with fancy features like QSBC (Quadruple Swing By Code) error correction, while the Q300 is for mainstream users and comes in capacities from 120GB to 960GB.

That's nothing compared with what's to come, according to Han Lin.

"In August this year we announced the technology of four bit per cell," he said, meaning that the same physical footprint has greater capacity. "We also announced 3D flash, a 47-layer stack of three bit per cell, almost like a small skyscraper to allow more storage in the same space. It is an interesting time where HDD and SDD is coming together."

"The four-bit technology exists, the next step is production. We said that by 2018 the disk technology including 3D Flash could reach up to 128TB," he added.

Do consumers need that much storage? "Right now, we always say 6TB or 3TB is more than enough, but we grow into this," said Han Lin. "Ultimately 128TB will be good but will come at some expense."

In business, such capacities will always be welcome, given the industry trend towards IoT (Internet of Things) and ever-increasing quantities of sensor-derived data begging to be analysed.

Increased capacity at the high end also implies lower prices for more humdrum sizes such as 1TB. SSD has a huge performance benefit versus hard drives, though that can be mitigated to some extent by hybrid drives that use a small SSD partition as a cache, like Toshiba's H200, also announced at IFA, which comes in 500GB and 1TB sizes.

There is no need for hybrid if SSD is cheap enough, though, and with its capacity also overtaking that of hard drives it looks set to be the only sensible choice for desktops as well as mobile devices. ®

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