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What is the Difference Between an eMLC or MLC Solid State Drive?

Article ID: 157
Last updated: 02 Nov, 2014

MLC stands for Multi-Level Cell, and is used to describe a type of flash memory that can store more than 1-bit per cell. This is the popular choice for consumer-grade solid state storage.

eMLC stands for Enterprise MLC, an improved version of the Multi-Level Cell flash memory.

The difference between the two is primarily reliability and write endurance. Typically the more bits in each flash cell, the fewer write cycles the cell will have. As an example, an eMLC could be 2-bit, whilst a MLC could be 3 or 4-bit. This translates to a large difference in how many write cycles the cells will have. A consumer-grade MLC will only provide 3000 to 10000 write cycles, whereas an eMLC can offer 20,000 to 30,000.

As suggested by the name, Enterprice MLC is designed for enterprise applications due to its ability to handle higher workloads. It is currently considered a compromise between the inexpensive option of MLC flash, and the very expensive single-level cell (SLC) flash, though vendors are working on bringing it closer to the standards of SLC, which has about 100,000 write cycles.

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