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[How much do you know about flash memory? - Part 2] The Paradigm Shift in Storage Accessories, Why Samsung Electronics’ SSD is No.1

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Samsung Electronics’ flash memory has been No.1 since 2003 with cutting-edge technology. In the last post, “The Beginning of Flash Memory No.1’s History,” we looked into how Samsung Electronics’ flash memory business began and the company’s technology and leadership in the NAND flash industry. Today, we will take a look at how Samsung Electronics, the leading figure of flash memory, surprised the world with their SSD (Solid State Drive). In 2006, Samsung Electronics was the first in the world to commercialize the SSD, opening a new generation after the long period of using the HDD (Hard Disk Drive) as the main storage device for PCs. What’s Samsung Electronics’ secret to changing the paradigm with their world’s best NAND flash technology? From HDD to SSD! The change in the paradigm for storage devices, led by Samsung Electronics
From HDD to SSD! The change in the paradigm for storage devices, led by Samsung Electronics
From HDD to SSD! The change in the paradigm for storage devices, led by Samsung Electronics

The storage system began as papers, then developed into magnetic tapes, HDD, and at last, SSD. Unlike HDD, where the hardware’s own disk and motors are used, SSD uses NAND flash to digitally store data. In other words, if the HDD were to be compared to record players, the SSD would be its digital form, so an MP3. What, then, does the transition from using HDD to SSD for storage mean? HDD reads and writes data by changing its surface arrangements on the platter that is coated with magnetic material. It searches for data by rotating the platters, so once the speed goes beyond a limit, it reaches its physical capacity that causes the device to make louder noises and use more electricity. Even if the CPU, the central processing unit, and the RAM, the computer memory, are fast, if they are not supported by the HDD, the computer will inevitably slow down. And SSD fixes this issue. SSD saves data on the semiconductor and is operated digitally, meaning it improves the speed of data processing dramatically. It also does not require any driving mechanisms like a motor, which is a must for the HDD, meaning it is much more stable and does not cause the device to heat up or make noise. However, extensive research and hard work went on to bring this paradigm change. In the 1970s, the first form of SSD technology similar to what we have today appeared, but due to its high price and size, it could not be commercialized and made accessible to the general public. But Samsung Electronics was sure that the storage device industry would shift to SSD one day. So, they jumped into developing the technology. Then, in 2006, they released the world’s first-ever laptop PC (SenseQ30+) and the ultra-mobile PC (SenseQ1) with 32GB SSD. It was a moment in which they opened up a new market of digital PCs without hard disks. Back then, nobody thought of using the flash memory used in digital cameras, MP3 players, USB flash drives and more in regular PCs due to its costs and other complications. But Samsung Electronics gained a competitive edge with their NAND flash technology and leadership. They were able to install SSD into commercial laptop PCs that did not lag behind 30GB/20GB HDD devices and had one-fifth of their booting speed. Internalizing and revolutionizing SSD technology to lead the world’s SSD market!
Internalizing and revolutionizing SSD technology to lead the world’s SSD market!
Internalizing and revolutionizing SSD technology to lead the world’s SSD market!

SSD consists of NAND flash, DRAM, controller hardware, and firmware that runs this. If NAND flash were to be compared to a library that stores books, the controller would be the librarian that organizes these books. In other words, NAND flash increases the level of data integration to increase the SSD storage. Meanwhile, the controller maximizes SSD’s capacity by overseeing the data movement between the interface and the memory and deciding the orders of data reading and writing. With endless innovations, Samsung Electronics internalized the technologies for key components like the NAND flash, controller, firmware, and more, to make the SSD work. Here’s the first secret to how Samsung Electronics became the largest market shareholder in the SSD industry from 2006 and the leader of the global market. Samsung Electronics is known to have cutting-edge technology and the world’s biggest production and market share in the NAND flash industry. Not only that, they are also commended in the industry for their best technology in controller and firmware productions, which maximize their products’ capabilities and reliability.
NAND flash, innovation upon innovation start with 2006 till 2018
NAND flash, innovation upon innovation start with 2006 till 2018

In Samsung Electronics being the world’s first to commercialize SSD, their NAND flash innovations played a critical role. In 2006, the development of the CTF (Charge Trap Flash) NAND technology that overcame the limitations of the Floating Gate technology made a huge contribution. With this technology under their belt, they became the world’s first to use the 40-nano 32GB NAND flash memory on SSD and commercialize it. Samsung Electronics paid close attention to the potential of NAND flash in the world early on, and predicted they would be able to develop ultra-capacity semiconductor technology in the post-gigabyte age of terabytes after 2010. And this prediction came true. With Samsung Electronics fully jumping into the commercial SSD business in 2010, in 2011, they released the SSD 830 Series with 20-nano high-speed NAND flash and exclusive controller. In 2012, they released the SSD 840 Series that employed 3-bit MLC (TLC, Triple Level Cell) NAND flash. This product is high-performance and high-reliability; the 3-bit MLC NAND flash operating in the SSD proved the world’s belief wrong, that such would be difficult. Samsung Electronics once again jumped beyond the limits in scaling technology with their mass-production of 3D V-NAND flash memory in 2013. The world was astounded by Samsung’s world’s first commercialization of the 3D integration technology. With this technology, Samsung Electronics ventured out to expand the high-capacity SSD market. Then, in 2014, they released the SSD 850 Series with 3D V-NAND, officially switching to producing V-NAND-based products for the general consumer market as well. For corporate data centers, they mass-produced 1TB SSD in 2013, 15.36TB SSD in 2016, then 30.72TB SSD in 2018. In just 12 years since the first introduction of the 32GB SSD in 2006, they increased the storage capacity by 1,000 times and began the era of ultra-capacity semiconductors. Samsung Electronics still continue to make history by being the world’s first in reaching many milestones in flash memory technology and the SSD market. In the third post of Samsung Electronics’ Flash Memory, we will explore portable SSD for consumers the general public is more familiar with, as well as the ultra-capacity data center SSD, which is gaining importance in recent times. Look forward to Samsung Electronics’ SSD development as they advance with their cutting-edge technology.

Samsung Electronics’ Milestones in Mass-Production of SSD

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