NAND Flash Chip Types – SLC, MLC, TLC

USB drives are available in three types of flash, SLC (single-level cell), MLC (multi-level cell) and TLC (triple-level cell). Each one has its distinct uses.

  • SLC (Single-Level Cell)
  1. High performance / faster write speeds
  2. Long-term reliability – 100,000 program/erase cycles per cell
  3. Has two states: programmed or erased
  4. Used for embedded and industrial applications
  5. Higher cost
  • MLC (Multi-Level Cell)
  1. Lower endurance than SLC
  2. 10,000 program/erase cycles per cell
  3. Has four states: fully programmed, partially programmed, partially erased and fully erased
  4. Used for consumer applications
  5. Lower cost
  • TLC (Triple-Level Cell)
  1. Lower endurance and performance than SLC and MLC
  2. 5,000 program/erase cycles per cell
  3. Has eight states and is thus slower in operation
  4. Used for low-end applications that require cost efficiency
  5. Most cost efficient

Each of these has its place in the market. We can help you determine which one to use based on your requirements. Email sales@customusb.com if you have any questions or comments.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

July 12, 2012 at 2:34 am

Thanks for the post.
What type of memory is appropriate for SuperSpeed USB 3.0- SLC or MLC?
I’ve also read about enterprise MLC for low error rates. How does it differ from MLC?

July 16, 2012 at 3:38 pm
– In reply to: MHK63

The SuperSpeed USB 3.0 drives utilize TLC chips.

July 30, 2012 at 6:08 pm
– In reply to: MHK63

Actually, most USB 3.0 drives these days are made with MLC but you can use either depending on what your goals are. Enterprise MLC or eMLC is designed more for endurance (ie more read/write cycles) The lower error rate can be attributed to using an enterprise quality controller. Most of this is in use in SSD technology though, for USB, MLC with a good USB controller will do just fine for most applications.

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