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How Samsung became a leader in NAND flash memory storage

The company’s providing groundbreaking tech for data storage, for both businesses and consumers.

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Some of us have gone through an era of pixelated MASK ROM entertainment, others have experienced an evolution in the capabilities of music devices, and plenty have tried slow file transfers and limited data storage. Thanks to 5G and Big Data, the way we work, live, play, and learn has been transformed, which means we’re moving immense amounts of data in the process. It’s why making flash memory is increasingly valuable, and essential.

Since Samsung attained the No. 1 position in the flash memory market — after mass-producing the 1Gb NAND flash in 2002 — the company has only increased its thirst for developing and innovating the field. Because of Samsung’s leadership and unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of flash memory technology, data limitations are more insignificant than ever before — in turn making, playing, listening, and working more enjoyable. Here’s how Samsung created the leading mode of storage technology.

Before NAND, there was MASK ROM

In the summer of 1984 — when the company was only taking baby steps toward forever impacting the flash memory market — the world was still dominated by analog technology, and the World Wide Web was still years from being introduced. But Samsung successfully developed 16kb EEPROM then, which is now regarded as the precursor for flash memory.

However, the market focused on utilizing MASK ROM for gaming devices like Game Boys, Tamagatchis, and future technologies. The downside of MASK ROM was the non-erasable and non-programmable nature of the storage memory. The limitations of the technology’s application and capabilities made Samsung decide to refocus their efforts, research, and investments, kicking off a new era of flash memory.

The leap to SSDs

Samsung’s efforts culminated in the mid-2000s, when the company became the first to commercialize solid-state drives (SSDs). That created a massive market that would eventually replace hard disk drives (HDDs). SSDs are more reliable, since they don’t have any moving parts, and they’re not affected by magnetic fields, unlike a hard disk with magnetic tape or discs. The difference is akin to comparing a classic record player to an MP3 player.

The commercialization of SSD changed the storage paradigm, launching an all-new market of SSD-based PCs. SSD was no longer just found in servers or for enterprise applications; it became a ubiquitous technology in consumer devices. Since flash memory primarily had been applied to devices like digital cameras, MP3 players, and USB flash drives, this was a game-changer.

Building the future of flash memory storage

3D Vertical NAND in 2013

Having recognized early on that the storage media paradigm would eventually shift to SSD, Samsung has been spearheading SSD innovation for several years. In August 2013, Samsung developed the 3D vertical NAND (3D V-NAND) flash memory technology. The V-NAND breakthrough was made possible by proprietary Samsung innovations: the cylindrical 3D CTF and vertical stacking technology. This advancement also enabled three notable improvements over traditional, planar NAND — namely, faster speeds, less power consumption, and greater cell durability.

SSDs are composed of key elements, like the NAND flash and a controller with firmware that keeps things operating smoothly. If you imagine a NAND flash as an intricate library that houses a vast number of books, then the controller is the librarian who keeps everything in order. In other words, a NAND flash increases the SSD’s capacity through data aggregation, while the controller improves the drive’s performance by regulating the movement of data between the interface and memory and setting the order in which it reads and writes.

Today’s high-performing SSDs and NAND

Today, laptop usage has become practically universal. The amount of data we create continues to increase, which in turn increases the demand for speedy, portable storage devices. Samsung’s lineup of portable SSDs was created to satisfy consumers’ multifaceted needs, by offering them external storage solutions that are faster and lighter than traditional HDDs, and that ensure high data reliability.

Only 12 years after the release of the company’s first 32GB SSD came the launch of the 30.72TB enterprise SSD. This drive offers 1,000 times more storage than the original model and has taken ultra-high-capacity semiconductors to exciting new heights.

T7 Touch

One of Samsung’s most recent releases is the T7 Touch, a portable SSD that combines high performance with stalwart security. The device features a built-in fingerprint sensor that’s similar to those of flagship smartphones, and it’s quick, thanks in part to fifth-generation 512Gb V-NAND and an ultra-fast NVMe controller.

These high-performance SSDs (and PSSDs) are built not just for servers and business tech, but for consumers, too. These drives are ideal for video producers, for example, who need to minimize the time between exporting and moving huge 4K video files to a drive, or even who intend to use it as a working scratch disk. Moreover, the applicability is for a wide variety of uses — video, 3D, gaming, enterprise, design, music, and others. The world’s leading flash memory manufacturer continues to blaze a trail for game-changing tech to move forward.

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