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3/3/2016
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Samsung's Massive 16TB SSD Is Now Shipping

Samsung has crammed nearly 16TB of storage onto the PM1633a by deploying its third-generation, 256GB V-NAND technology. This hefty SSD is specifically targeted at enterprises and businesses with specific storage needs.

MWC 2016 Best In Show: Galaxy S7, LG's G5, More
MWC 2016 Best In Show: Galaxy S7, LG's G5, More
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Samsung has started shipping the PM1633a, a nearly 16TB solid state drive (SSD) that the South Korean technology giant is calling the world's largest.

The 15.36TB drive, first revealed at the 2015 Flash Memory Summit in August, is based on a 12Gb/s Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface and designed for use in enterprise storage systems.

In order to fit such a large amount of storage capacity on a single SSD, Samsung combined 512 of its 256GB V-NAND memory chips, with 256GB dies stacked in 16 layers to form a single 512GB package, with a total of 32 NAND flash packages in the drive.

The PM1633a SSD sports random read and write speeds of up to 200,000 and 32,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS), and boasts sequential read and write speeds of up to 1,200MB/s.

The drive also employs Samsung's third-generation 256GB V-NAND technology, which stacks cell arrays in 48 layers. The company called the drive a significant upgrade from the preceding PM1633 drive, which used Samsung's second-generation, 32-layer, 128GB V-NAND memory.

(Image: Samsung)

(Image: Samsung)

The drive also features a metadata protection mechanism, in addition to a data protection and restoration software tool in case of a momentary blackout.

In an effort to lure enterprise customers, Samsung has focused on reliability, claiming the PM1633a drive supports one drive writes per day (DWPD), which means 15.36TB of data can be written every day on a single drive without failure.

The company has also deployed specially designed firmware that can access large amounts of high-density NAND flash concurrently. The drive comes packaged with Samsung's advanced controller units that support the 12Gb/s SAS interface.

Samsung said it would provide a wide range of capacity options in its PM1633a SSD lineup, including 7.68TB, 3.84TB, 1.92TB, 960GB, and 480GB models later this year.

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Jung-bae Lee, senior vice president of memory product planning and the application engineering team at Samsung, said in a March 3 statement announcing the release of the new SSD that the company wanted to gear the PM1633s toward satisfying an increasing need for ultra-high-capacity SAS SSDs within the enterprise market. He wrote:

We will continue to lead the industry with next-generation SSDs, using our advanced 3D V-NAND memory technology, in order to accelerate the growth of the premium memory market while delivering greater performance and efficiency to our customers.

Samsung did not release pricing for the 2.5-inch SSD.

As part of its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2015 financial report, which the company released Jan. 28, Samsung announced that it plans to improve competitiveness of its memory products and plans to diversify its foundry customers and enhance the system-on-chip (SoC) line-up.

The company noted growing demand for solution products helped lift NAND demand for high-density mobile devices and enterprise SSD for servers and PCs that require greater storage.

Samsung predicted demand for memory chips would increase due to growth in contents stored in high-density servers featuring DRAM and SSD, and said it would expand 20-nm process migration and develop a 10-nm class process in DRAM.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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