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What Is QLC Flash?

Hardware Design Concept, Industrial Flash Storage

 

When it comes to flash technology, there is an ever-present push for more storage capacity with lower ownership costs. For many years, the answer for OEMs and engineers looking for the highest possible storage capacity was TLC NAND flash. Now, TLC flash is quickly being replaced by QLC flash. QLC flash offers huge capacities at low costs, but there are downsides. So, what is QLC flash? Could it be the right choice for your device? Here is what you need to know.

 

QLC Flash Basics

QLC stands for quad-level cell. With this kind of flash memory, four bits of data are stored per cell. This is the highest capacity of flash storage available. Other forms of flash include SLC, or single-level cell, flash memory, in which one bit of data is stored per cell, multi-level cell (MLC) flash, in which two bits of data are stored on each cell, and TLC—triple-level cell—flash, in which three bits of data are stored on each cell.

 

The push for QLC flash is designed to address one glaring issue with SSDs, or solid state drives. Though SSDs have a long list of benefits when compared to HDDs, or hard disk drives, HDDs still offer far greater capacities than SSDs. Because SSDs have become preferred in most devices, there is a need for flash memory storage capacities to increase to bring SSD storage in line with HDD capacities.

 

QLC Flash Pros and Cons

Increased capacity is the clear advantage of using QLC NAND flash memory. That alone is enough to make it suitable for some devices, but it isn’t the right pick for everyone. Storing four bits of data per cell has some disadvantages.

 

One disadvantage is that the more data that is stored per cell, the more likely there is to be an error that leads to data loss. The lifespan of this type of storage device is also much lower than that of other forms of flash. For industrial applications, QLC flash is generally not an ideal pick for these reasons. However, for devices in which capacity is the biggest issue—especially read-heavy applications—QLC flash can be a good choice.

 

Let Delkin help you navigate the complex world of flash memory to find the best fit for your device. For more information, talk to a customer applications team member today.

 

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