Western Digital announces UFS 3.0 storage drives for high-end smartphones

Western Digital announces UFS 3.0 storage drives for high-end smartphones

Aside from the Snapdragon 855, 5G, and foldable displays, the fourth-biggest 2019 buzzword in the Android world might well be UFS 3.0. The third generation of Universal Flash Storage specs were released early in 2018, but only in 2019 will we actually see phones with embedded storage that meet such standards. The first phone to be announced with UFS 3.0 storage was the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which will set buyers back about $2,000 for the most bare-bones variant. There were rumors that the Galaxy S10 would feature UFS 3.0, but no mention was made of it in Samsung’s official Galaxy S10 spec sheet.

Western Digital is one of the major suppliers of UFS storage for smartphones (though the Galaxy Fold will no doubt use Samsung’s own implementation), and they announced their UFS 3.0 EFD (Embedded Flash Drive) this week. They had the following to say about their EFD, branded the iNAND MC EU511:

Built on the company’s advanced 96-layer 3D NAND, the iNAND® MC EU511 supports Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 3.0 Gear 4/2 Lane specifications. The advanced iNAND SmartSLC Generation 6 propels turbo sequential write speeds up to 750MB/s, enabling a 2-hour movie download in only 3.6 seconds.

The claim that a 2-hour movie can be downloaded to internal storage in “only 3.6 seconds” is based on H.265 compression and a file size of 4.5GB.

My colleague Doug Lynch did some digging into the UFS 3.0 spec last summer and he mentioned its theoretical max is more than double the bandwidth of the current generation of embedded storage chips set to the 2.1 spec. Most current flagship phones with UFS 2.1 have a theoretical max bandwidth of 1,2ooMB/s (600MB/s per lane, two lanes) while UFS 3.0 touts a theoretical max of 2,900MB/s (1,450MB/s per lane, two lanes). I should note that these theoretical max speeds are just that, as Western Digital’s press release touts a speed of 750MB/s per lane for their iNAND MC EU511 EFD.

In terms of real-world usage, downloads should be faster even on 4G because such operations are affected not only by network bandwidth but also internal storage read/write speeds. Also, games and apps should launch faster on phones with the 3.0 spec (all other hardware factors such as display resolution, CPU and RAM being equal). Also, editing those 48MP stills and 4K videos many will have stored on their mid-to-late 2019 flagship phones will go more quickly. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and AI applications should also see a boost in performance due to the higher read/write speeds of UFS 3.0.

I imagine one area of particular interest to XDA readers will be faster backup and restore operations in apps such as Titanium Backup and Swift Backup, and faster flashing operations in TWRP (and backup/restore operations for those who use TWRP for such things). These are particular use cases that depend on UFS read/write speeds more so than strictly on processor speed and RAM. Even though Samsung didn’t formally announce UFS 3.0 for its Galaxy S10 flagships, we should expect to see more 2019 flagships joining the Galaxy Fold in the third-generation standard of UFS storage, hopefully at more affordable prices. Perhaps we’ll see Western Digital supply such storage to phones like the OnePlus 7 or Google’s expected 4th-generation Pixel phones.

Source: Western Digital (press release)