Intel’s five-cell plan could boost SSD capability by a lot


Established chip maker Intel is now looking at building a better solid-state drive.

The Intel company has long been an innovator in microprocessors, for example, moving from traditional to multi-core technology early.

With its sights on solid-state drives, Intel is embracing some of the best new technology for data transmissions on workstation hardware.

Unlike a traditional platter hard drive, solid-state drives use a substrate to conduct electrical energy across the surface in order to move data. That means there’s none of that physical activity of the platter and reader that typically slows down computers as they age.

The massive efficiency of solid-state drives is also a reflection of the wider Moore’s law trend where hardware engineering has brought us practically exponential improvements in capacity and capability.

Now, Intel is announcing ‘five-level cells’ for solid-state devices that could combine single cell bit structures for a major enhancement of performance.

Intel promises to help improve SSDs with new technology that squeezes more data into each memory cell,” writes Stephen Shankland at CNet. “The bottom line: expect the competition and innovation to drive down storage prices for the PC, phone or other digital doodad you buy a couple years from now.”

Insiders are excited about the five-cell capability.

“Five-level cells would further increase density and reduce the cost beyond quad-level cells,” said Frank Hady, part of Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, as quoted in Shankland’s story.

Although Shankland reports competitors like Toshiba are unrolling similar technology Intel seems to be one of the first of the table, although Shankland provides a critical disclaimer as to timeline.

“Intel didn’t say when the new technology would be commercialized or how it’ll affect costs,” Shankland writes, citing a company statement.