WD touts lower-capacity flash drive for smartphone makers

Western Digital is releasing a lower capacity embedded flash drive for smartphone makers. We infer this is a response to low demand for the company’s 512GB option, which launched last March.

The iNAND MC EU521 embedded flash drive stores up to 256GB and transfers data at up to 800GB/sec. This is slightly faster of its immediate predecessor, the iNAND MC EU511 – but only half the capacity. Presumably it is priced accordingly.

Itzik Gilboa, director of the mobile storage business, told us by email: “Customers’ preferences were leaning toward the 256GB capacity. This is about the practicality of having the right product at the right time.”

The EU521 delivers a six per cent speed improvement over the EU511. This may not be noticeable to the consumer, considering the EU511 can store a two hour movie in 3.6 seconds, according to WD.

Huibert Verhoeven, WD’s Automotive, Mobile and Emerging business unit SVP, issued a quote: “Smartphones now demand more performance and capacity as they often serve as the primary computing device for everything from streaming video, playing music, gaming and photography, to payments and mapping.” 

The EU521 speed increase is achieved by using a newer UFS 3.1 Gear 4/2 lane specification. A WD spokesperson said: “This version of UFS (3.1), with Write Booster based on Western Digital’s 6th Generation SmartSLC, enables improvements in robustness in performance under load, in ‘save’ times for edited videos, for example, and download times are improved for movies and large files.” 

Faster movie downloads

The iNAND MC EU511, announced just under a year ago, supports JEDEC’s Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 3.0 Gear 4/2 Lane specification and was for use in all smart mobile devices. It can transfer data at up to 750MB/sec and uses an SLC cache in front of its 96-layer 3D NAND store formatted with TLC flash.

EU521 with 256GB maximum capacity.

Verhoeven also said: “The SLC caching in the iNAND EU521 with Write Booster offers users several key performance improvements that, when coupled with 5G, are expected to bring faster movie downloads than ever before.”

The EU521 uses the same TLC flash and SLC cache design as the EU511 and supports a later UFS 3.1 Gear 4/2 lane specification. JEDEC’s UFS 3.1 standard has three extra features over UFS 3.0:

  • SLC cache write booster, which WD had already implemented in the EU511,
  • DeepSleep low power state,
  • Performance throttling notification so the device can tell its host its slowing storage speed due to a high temperature reading.

WD is eyeing 5G smartphones as target host devices for its EU521 chip and the chip will be available in March.