SLC vs MLC – does it matter any more?

A very good survey of the Flash Memory choices for enterprise storage. SLC was at one time the only memory technology reliable enough for Enterprise Storage. Now MLC is catching up and allowing larger drives to be purchase at the same or slightly lower price as compared to SLC versions from the same manufacturers. It’s a sign that MLC is maturing and becoming “good enough” for most uses. – The Home of Storage Switzerland

When an IT professional starts looking into solid state drives (SSDs) they quickly learn that flash is very different from magnetic disk drives. Flash employs a much more complex write and erase process than traditional hard disk drive (HDD) technology does, a process that impacts performance, reliability and the device’s lifespan (flash eventually wears out). To address potential concerns, vendors have historically sold different types of flash, with the more expensive SLC (Single-Level Cell) being used in more critical environments. But with advances in controller technologies, is the more economical MLC (Multi-Level Cell) good enough for the enterprise?


As indicated above there are actually different types of NAND flash used in storage products. SLC NAND supports two logical states enabling each cell to store one bit of data. MLC NAND, and its “enterprise” cousin eMLC, have a capacity of up to four bits per cell. This increased…

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