Intel Micron QLC Flash Yields Less Than 50%

IMFT QLC Costs More To Manufacture Than TLC Now.

Published Wed, Aug 29 2018 4:21 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 11:50 AM CST

Just a month ago Intel released the SSD 660p, the world's first retail SSD with 4-bit per cell QLC technology. The drive looks good on paper and the reviews look great thanks to high random read performance and a fabulous price (660p 1TB at $199.99). QLC is much better than we expected in a typical consumer workload and the promise of lower-cost large-capacity SSDs excites everyone. The next shoe to drop is more QLC and third-party manufacturers releasing competitive products that decrease the cost while pushing the technology into niche products outside of the fabs target customers.

Intel Micron QLC Flash Yields Less Than 50% |

Today we were told not to expect that anytime soon. Intel and manufacturing partner Micron have low yields with QLC. The conditions may never get better with this generation. A source close to the situation stated the current yield for 64-layer QLC is hovering right around 48%. Less than half of the die manufactured are reliable enough to use in an SSD. In contrast, current 64-layer TLC from IMFT has a yield right around 90% as of today. Usually companies work to increase yields over time but the push to finish more profitable 96-layer flash may divert engineering resources away from 64-layer QLC.

At this time, QLC bits are more expensive to manufacture than TLC bits. Intel went ahead and released the SSD 660p to make a technology statement, but that doesn't mean QLC is ready to displace TLC just yet.

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