Kioxia announces the FL6 PCIe 4.0 XL-FLASH SSD: a more affordable and faster alternative to Intel's Optane SSDs
Of all the hybrid storage solutions that hit the market in the past decade, only Intel’s Optane series based on the 3D XPoint technology managed to find its niche mostly for the enterprise and datacenter markets. Consumers also have access to some Optane solutions, but these are not really that popular, thus the revenue comes from the more expensive server solutions. Kioxia is now challenging Intel’s Optane niche with its latest FL6 hybrid products based on the company’s Storage Class Memory. The new FL6 SSDs combine Kioxia’s BiCS 3D NAND flash memory with SLC XL-FLASH in order to deliver faster performance and also considerably lower price points compared to Intel’s Optane solutions.
Kioxia has not yet provided any performance metrics that would indeed prove the FL6 superiority over Intel Optane. However, the improved performance is hinted at through the PCIe 4.0 and NVMe 1.4 compatibility plus native dual-port support. Also, the XL-FLASH memory should be able to bridge the gap between DRAM and TLC-based SSDs, as it allows faster program times of 7 ms and lower latencies of only 5 ms, which represents a 10x improvement over current TLC solutions.
Other improvements include a page size set to 4 KB for more efficient OS read and write speeds, plus a total of 16 memory planes that can simultaneously process data requests. The BiCS flash memory that stores only one bit per cell can also contribute to increased read/write speeds. As far as reliability goes, the FL6 SSDs are rated for 60 drive writes per day and come with an MTBF of 2.5 million hours.
One minor downside for the new FL6 SSDs is the relatively reduced storage capacities ranging between 800 GB and 3.2 TB, which are not exactly datacenter-friendly. There is no pricing info either, but Kioxia is already sampling the FL6 SSDs to partners and customers.