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MLC vs TLC

Posted on 2016-07-25
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Last Modified: 2016-07-27
I just noticed Intel's latest consumer SSDs are TLC. Up until this series all their consumer SSDs have been MLC. I have always heard that MLC is faster and more reliable. Has something shown up on the horizon that now makes TLC a better choice then MLC?
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Question by:LockDown32
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it_saige earned 250 total points
ID: 41728549
Technically, they are better for business and not the consumer.  TLC's have a shorter life span than MLC's with SLC having the longest lifespan.  TLC's are also cheaper to produce.

That being said, the lifespan isn't something that you want to shake a stick at.  In 2013, third-party stress testing was performed on the most popular TLC drive at the time (the Samsung 840) and determined that the average *actual* lifespan of the drive was about 75 years:

https://us.hardware.info/reviews/4178/10/hardwareinfo-tests-lifespan-of-samsung-ssd-840-250gb-tlc-ssd-updated-with-final-conclusion-final-update-20-6-2013

The final conclusion of the testers was that TLC's were just as reliable as MLC's, although the manufacturer's will only warranty and guarantee the stability/reliability of the drive for so long.

-saige-
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by:LockDown32
ID: 41728568
SLC isn't really in the discussion because of cost. So what you are saying is that life span is not an issue. If it is 75 years in a consumer environment I would imagine it wouldn't be much less in a business environment. Businesses rotate computers about every five years anyway. Even tripping the light fantastic they might, only in rare cases, remove the drive and reuse it when they rotate out the computer.

So everyone figures TLC drives would so far outlive a computer what's the point? Why spend the money?

Even their "Professional" series (designed for business) is now TLC.....
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by:Dr. Klahn
Dr. Klahn earned 250 total points
ID: 41728744
The main issue is cost.  TLC is cheaper than MLC is cheaper than SLC on a per-bit basis.

SLC stores one bit per cell, MLC two bits per cell, TLC three bits per cell.  The cells are identical, so for the same amount of chip real estate they can triple the storage capacity.  The same chip might be used in a 4 GB, 8 GB or 12 GB flash drive depending on whether it's used as SLC, MLC or TLC.

But you give up reliability in exchange.  An SLC cell is on or off.  An MLC cell has four voltage levels.  A TLC cell has eight voltage levels, and the levels get fuzzy over time.  So a typical SLC cell has a lifetime of 100,000 uses, an MLC cell 10,000 uses but a TLC cell only 1,000 uses.

Given a choice, prefer an MLC product over TLC.  The manufacturer's quoted "average lifetime" applies only to an "average user", and I have not yet met an average user.
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