Intel 660p: First SSD series with QLC memory will be discontinued

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Almost four years ago, the Intel 660p was the first consumer SSD with QLC NAND flash (4 bits per cell) onto the market. Intel is now announcing the discontinuation of the series, which actually already belongs to the new owner Solidigm (SK Hynix).

As Intel announced in a Product Change Notification, the 660p series completely discontinued with the models with 512 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB storage volume. The SSDs should still be available from Intel until September 30, 2022, if available. The last deliveries would then take place on December 30, 2022.

Behind the Intel logo is a new owner

Actually, the SSDs already belong to the new owner Solidigm, who also lists them on his product pages. Solidigm is the company formed from the sale of Intel's SSD division to SK Hynix, which now further develops and sells the flash-based Intel SSDs. Intel itself only has the Optane SSDs in its range, which use phase change memory (3D XPoint) instead of NAND flash. SSDs are not cheaper than TLC models

A look at the price comparison reveals that the Intel SSD 660p is still readily available from online retailers at the moment. The prices are the equivalent of 8 to 10 cents per gigabyte. This is no cheaper than inexpensive models with TLC memory (3 bits per cell). Actually, QLC-NAND with a higher areal density should make for cheaper SSDs, but the price advantage in the end product SSD is hardly to be found. Since QLC NAND is potentially less durable and slower, there is currently a strong case for buying a TLC SSD.

Writing on HDD level (after the cache)

While the durability is still sufficient for normal users , the low write speed after the SLC cache is the Achilles' heel of QLC SSDs like the 660p, which then only writes to HDD level at 100 MB/s. The younger Intel SSD 670p (test) is already significantly faster. In the meantime, Intel had surprisingly discontinued the actual successor in the form of the SSD 665p.

QLC will get better

Despite the current disadvantages, the future belongs to QLC-NAND in the long term. Coming generations will be significantly faster. Samsung has already promised new QLC-NAND with significantly more performance. For the time being, however, TLC-NAND remains the widespread, better and currently not more expensive alternative. QLC is therefore not included in the editors' current SSD recommendations.