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5 NAND flash manufacturers balance performance, reliability

NAND flash manufacturers Kioxia, Micron, Samsung, SK Hynix and Western Digital offer varying levels of capacity. They also provide an assortment of uses.

In recent years, NAND flash memory has gained popularity because of its performance. In addition, NAND SSDs are cooler and quieter and use less power than HDDs. However, not all NAND is created equal.

Some vendors provide general-purpose NAND flash storage, while others focus on specific market segments. These five key NAND flash manufacturers include an assortment of products, applications for their SSD technology and target market.

1. Kioxia

Kioxia, formerly Toshiba Memory Corp., offers enterprise, client and data center SSDs but no longer manufactures consumer-grade storage products. The company's enterprise SSDs are categorized as read-intensive, write-intensive, server caching and write logging, and mixed use. They are available in a 2.5-inch form factor or as an add-in card. Capacities vary by model and range from 800 GB to 3,200 GB.

Kioxia offers two classes of data center SSDs: the CD and XD series. The CD series is designed for cloud and scale-out uses. These devices are only sold as 2.5-inch drives and have capacities ranging from 800 GB to 15,360 GB. The drives use bit column stacked (BiCS) flash triple-level cell (TLC) NAND.

Kioxia's XD series devices are available in PCIe and NVMe form factors and in capacities ranging from 1,920 GB to 7,680 GB. These devices are designed for read-intensive applications and are also based on BiCS flash TLC technology.

Like its data center SSD products, Kioxia's client SSDs are grouped into several different series. XG series devices are based on BiCS flash TLC NAND and have a capacity between 256 GB and 4,096 GB. These devices adhere to the M.2 form factor and are designed for use in high-end workstations and gaming PCs.

The company's BG series drives are designed for use in thin, lightweight devices. They're based on BiCS flash TLC NAND and use the M.2 form factor. Capacities range from 128 GB to 1,024 GB.

Chart of top NAND flash manufacturers by market share

2. Micron Technology Inc.

Micron offers a variety of flash storage products that are grouped by the NAND flash technology they use, including single-level cell, multi-level cell, TLC, quad-level cell and 3D NAND. Micron recently introduced a 3D NAND product with 232 layers.

Micron primarily sells NAND flash memory that other vendors use in their flash storage products; however, the company also offers a selection of ready-made flash devices.

Micron sells NAND memory in densities ranging from 128 MB to 2 TB. Lower-density NAND memory options are designed for use in devices such as smart TVs, while higher-density options are used in SSDs and other high-capacity storage devices. Micron offers NAND memory for both consumer and enterprise applications.

These five key NAND flash manufacturers include an assortment of products, applications for their SSD technology and target market.

3. Samsung

Samsung offers SSDs, portable USB-connected SSDs, USB flash or thumb drives, and SD cards.

Samsung's line of SSDs focuses on the enterprise market, as well as the consumer market. Its drives are available in either standard 2.5-inch configurations or in the M.2 form factor. Capacities range from 128 GB to 30.72 TB. Most of Samsung's SSD models are based on 3D NAND, which Samsung refers to as Vertical NAND, or V-NAND.

4. SK Hynix Inc.

SK Hynix is a Korean company known for manufacturing its own DRAM and NAND flash storage and making its own SSD controllers. In addition to the company's own longstanding storage business, SK Hynix purchased Intel's SSD business in 2021.

SK Hynix offers both enterprise SSD and consumer SSD products, as well as devices that are intended for client use. The company's enterprise SSD offerings are available in standard 2.5-inch SATA 3 or M.2 form factors and range in capacity from 480 GB to 7,680 GB.

Although SK Hynix's collection of enterprise flash products is relatively limited, the company also offers client SSD options. The client SSDs are available in M.2 form factors. Capacities range from 128 GB to 2 TB.

SK Hynix also offers its Gold P31, Gold S31 and Platinum P31 consumer-grade SSDs. These PCIe NVMe and SATA SSDs are based on 128-layer, 4D NAND. The gold series SSDs are available in capacities of 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB. Available capacities vary between the NVMe and SATA form factors. The platinum version is available in 500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB capacities.

Major NAND flash memory vendors

5. Western Digital Corp.

Western Digital (WD) offers a variety of consumer-grade and enterprise-grade SSDs. The company's enterprise offerings include Ultrastar NVMe, SAS and SATA drives, as well as the WD Gold NVMe SSD. The WD Gold NVMe SSD is available in capacities ranging from 3.84 TB to 7.68 TB. These drives are based on the PCIe form factor.

The company's Ultrastar disks are primarily designed for data center use. The Ultrastar DC SN840 is an NVMe disk available in capacities ranging from 1.6 TB to 15.36 TB.

Additionally, WD offers consumer-grade NVMe and SATA SSDs. The company's 2.5-inch consumer SSDs have capacities ranging from 120 GB to 1.92 TB.

The Pro M.2 NVMe 3D SSD is one of the company's primary options for a consumer-grade NVMe drive. It's available in capacities ranging from 500 GB to 2 TB. Higher-capacity, consumer-grade NVMe options are available. The company's WD Red SN700 NVMe SSD, for example, is available in capacities ranging from 250 GB to 4 TB.

NAND flash memory adoption

According to a market research report by IMARC Group, the SSD market is expected to grow by 14.23% from 2023 to 2028.

The benefits from NAND flash manufacturers of performance and less mechanical failure than HDDs is driving SSD growth, according to the report.

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