Western Digital has started sampling its XNUMX-layer XNUMXD NAND chips featuring QLC architecture that stores four bits per cell. The chip happens to be the world’s highest-capacity XNUMXD NAND device. The company expects to commence volume shipments of this memory chip already this calendar year.
Western Digital’s XNUMX-layer BICSXNUMX XNUMXD QLC NAND chip can store up to XNUMX Tb of raw data, or around XNUMX GB. The IC will be initially used for consumer products Western Digital sells under the SanDisk brand, so think of memory cards (e.g., high-capacity SD and microSD products), USB drives, and some other devices. The manufacturer expects its XNUMXD QLD NAND memory to be used in a variety of applications, including retail, mobile, embedded, client, and enterprise, but does not elaborate on timing at this point.
The XNUMX-Tb BICSXNUMX IC is Western Digital’s second-gen XNUMXD QLC NAND device. Last year the company announced its BICSXNUMX XNUMX-layer XNUMXD QLC chips featuring a XNUMX Gb capacity, but it is unclear whether they have ever been used for commercial products. Meanwhile, it is clear that the device was used to learn about XNUMXD QLC behavior in general (i.e., endurance, read errors, retention, etc.)
Western Digital and its manufacturing partner Toshiba started volume production of XNUMX-layer XNUMXD NAND earlier this year. Western Digital confirmed in late May that it had begun volume shipments of its BiCSXNUMX memory to its retail customers, which most probably means that the new XNUMX-layer XNUMXD NAND ICs were used for select SanDisk-branded products. The first BiCSXNUMX products that Western Digital announced were XNUMX Gb XNUMXD TLC ICs, so it is highly likely that they have been in mass production for some time now.
As it appears, yields of XNUMX-layer XNUMXD NAND have been good enoug,h and things that the company has learned with BiCSXNUMX QLC were substantial, so Western Digital moved right to its top-of-the-range capacity of XNUMX Tb per chip. What is noteworthy is that officially the BiCSXNUMX range was to include both TLC and QLC ICs with capacities ranging from XNUMX Gb to XNUMX Tb, so the XNUMX Tb IC is a surprising addition to the lineup which signals Western Digital’s confidence of its technology.