DensBits – Making TLC Act Like MLC

DensBits' Soft Decoding yields 15x better ECC than 24-bit BCHDensBits, an Israeli start-up, has introduced a new technology and a new product today.  The company’s new eMMC controller, the DB3610, embodies DensBits’ “Memory Modem” technology, which is a blend of ECC, DSP, and flash management that the company says can give TLC flash endurance superior to that of MLC flash with performance nearly as good as competing controllers can provide with MLC.

That’s a big claim!

DensBits’ Memory Modem views NAND flash as a noisy communications channel, using those algorithms developed to support deep space radio telemetry to allow NAND blocks to support more erase/write cycles than would normally be expected of TLC flash, at a higher speed than available from most controllers.  The chart shows that the DensBits algorithm can bring error correction substantially closer to the Shannon Limit – the theoretical limit of errors that can be corrected – than more common 24-bit BCH ECC schemes.

The company has invested a significant effort in optimizing its algorithms to match the capabilities of economical digital logic, keeping the die area small even though the algorithms are complex.

DensBits is only introducing an eMMC controller at this point, but the company has expressed plans to introduce equally sophisticated controllers for both client and enterprise SSDs.

The company plans to license this technology rather than to ship products of its own.  Licenses are expected to appeal only to system manufacturers (makers of cards, flash drives, and SSDs) since these companies will realize flash cost savings if they adopt the DensBits Memory Modem.  This would put the company in competition with controller manufacturers like Anobit, Hyperstone, Indilinx, Jmicron, LSI’s SandForce, Physon, Silicon Motion, and Skymedi, while DensBits would sell its technology to SSD, USB flash drive, and flash card manufacturers like SanDisk, Intel, Samsung, Micron, OCZ, Kingston, STEC, SMART, and many others.

The Memory Guy finds it interesting that an Israeli firm is providing better performance at a lower cost through the use of elaborate algorithms.  Two other Israeli firms preceded DensBits down this path: mSystems used sophisticated mathematics to squeeze four-bit MLC out of NAND flash prior to its acquisition by SanDisk, and Anobit (recently acquired by Apple) was the first company to introduce TLC controllers based on DSP technology.

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