New flash storage tech promises tenfold capacity increase

A new breakthrough promises much better solid state disk (SSD) storage capacity. Could future a MacBook sport multiple terabytes of storage?

Both Intel and Micron have announced the development of 3D NAND, a new form of computer storage that promises dramatically increased density compared to the flash storage found in today's Macs.

In 3D NAND, layers of flash cells are stacked on top of one another to increase storage density. Planar NAND, the technology now used, is pretty close to its density limit, according to a new report on Wired.

When you cut through the technical language, the net result is that 2.5-inch SSDs could come in 10TB capacities, compared to the 1TB drives most laptops max out at today. The smaller SSDs required for the super-skinny laptops of the world won't see quite as much of a gain, but could still see a jump to 3.5TB, compared to the 512GB you see currently.

The big problem with SSDs is that the cost per gigabyte is still dramatically higher than a conventional hard disk, but consumers really love the better performance, durability and size of flash storage.

3D NAND doesn't promise to make SSD storage cheaper, but having more capacity is certainly welcome news to anyone who has hit the limit of the storage on their current SSD-equipped Mac.

It'll be a while before 3D NAND drives hit the market: Wired says that you won't see 3D NAND in the wild until late this year or perhaps early 2016.