"From a volume perspective, we do see there are really high-write intensive, high-performance computing environments that may still need SLC, but that's in the top 10 percent of even the enterprise data center requirements," Winslow said.
Intel is feeding that upper 10 percent of the enterprise data center market through its joint venture with Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which it is producing the SSD400S line of serial SCSI (SAS) SSDs, which has 6Gbit/sec. throughput -- twice that of its MLC-based SATA SSDs.
Last fall, Intel and Micron's joint venture company, IMFT (IM Flash Technologies), released a 3-bit-per-cell MLC SSD also based on 25nm circuitry.
The 3-bit-per-cell NAND flash chips were targeted for flash cards, USB drives and MP3 players, but not SSDs because packing 3 bits in per cell made the media inherently less reliable than 2-bit-per cell NAND flash.
Three bits per cell requires higher-level management and increases the potential for cell-to-cell electron leakage.
At that time, Intel unintentionally revealed through a leaked slideshow that it was planning on a complete refresh of the X25-M family using its newest lithography technique.
IMFT's 25nm 8GB die, which measures 0.35 by 0.74 in., is made up of many smaller 64Gbit NAND chips. The NAND technology makes it possible to build products using half as many chips as the previous 34nm lithography technology, allowing for smaller, higher-density designs.
For example, a 256GB SSD can be built with 32 of the 8GB NAND flash dies instead of 64 dies; a 32GB smartphone needs just four dies; and a 16GB flash card requires only two.
The change also cuts the overall cost to produce mobile products, which is why Intel was able to cut its prices on the latest line of SSD 320 products over the X25-M line.
Intel's NAND flash chips are small enough to fit through the hole in the middle of a compact disc, yet they pack more than 10 times the data capacity of a CD, which holds 700MB.
There are inherent problems with shrinking the size of circuitry used in semi-conductors, most notably an increase in data error rates from electrons bleeding through ever-thinner silicon walls. That requires the development of more sophisticated error correction code, which Intel has on its controller.
Unlike its last SSD product release, the the 6Gbit/sec 510 Series, Intel is sticking with its own controller in the SSD 320 series.
In the 510 series, Intel used a controller from Marvell for the first time. The 510 series is being marketed at PC gamers, media creators, performance-intensive workstation users and any technology enthusiast.
At the time of the 510's release, an Intel spokeswoman explained that third party controllers are now able to meet its performance standards, when in the past they could not.
"So in the future, we'll continue to use third-party controllers," Winslow said. "That doesn't mean Intel won't continue to produce its own controller too."
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com. Read more about storage hardware in Computerworld's Storage Hardware Topic Center.