SSD drive technology, MLC, TLC, SLC

By: ( +David Herron; Date: March 26, 2017

Tags: Computer Hardware »»»» SSD Drives

SSD drives are awesome, they're extremely faster than spinning drives, lower weight, lower power consumption, no noise, and are a direct plug-in replacement for spinning drives. Making the best choice between the available SSD's means understanding what MLC, TLC and SLC means. These acronyms cover different types of SSD drive, and tradeoff's between speed, performance, data storage and reliability. The 'C' in each acronym means 'Cell', and each refers to a different architecture.
  • SLC - Single Level Cell - each cell stores one bit
  • MLC - Multi Level Cell - each cell stores two bits (technically it refers to any architecture with more than one bit per cell)
  • TLC - Three Level Cell - each cell stores three bits

As they increase the number of bits per cell, the drive holds more data and should therefore cost less. However, it impacts speed and more importantly reliability. The TLC and MLC drives have a lower lifespan than SLC drives -- See: SSD drive lifetime expectancy explained

SLC drives are so expensive and so reliable that they're typically only used in Enterprise applications.

Bottom line is the best choice is probably an MLC drive.