"Rewiring" your SSD with SLC memory to boost endurance? Difficult, but not impossible

Written by Guillaume
Publication date: {{ dayjs(1714924804*1000).local().format("L").toString()}}
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A software engineer has completed his project to "convert" an SSD with NAND QLC to NAND SLC.

Now that's the kind of crazy project we like at DriversCloud. To be perfectly honest, there's not much point and, economically speaking, there's probably no future in it. After deciding tooverclock an SSD to boost its performance, Gabriel Ferraz, a computer engineering graduate and TechPowerUp's SSD database manager, set himself another challenge: to convert the NAND QLC memory of his Crucial BX500 SSD to NAND SLC in order to improve its write endurance... and above all to check the feasibility of the thing.

NAND memory used in SSDs is generally of four types. Firstly, there's SLC(single-level-cell), which stores just one bit of information per cell, resulting in very high performance and staggering write endurance (over 100,000 erase/write cycles). To save money, manufacturers then came up with MLC(multi-level-cell), which initially concerned only DLC(dual-level-cell): two bits of information are stored per cell, performance drops significantly, but write endurance, although lower, remains more than adequate at 10,000 cycles. To further reduce costs, TLC(triple-level-cell) and QLC(quad-level-cell) were created. The former is the most widely used today, thanks to its excellent price/performance/endurance ratio. On the other hand, QLC, with its 1,000 erase/write cycles, is more questionable.

Gabriel Ferraz therefore wondered whether it was possible to reprogram QLC NAND to make it work in SLC, in order to increase its write endurance. The whole operation is detailed in the video above, and although it's relatively complex, it doesn't involve anything too tricky. Gabriel Ferraz acquired a tool called MPtools to reprogram his SSD's firmware. Of course, you don't have to be afraid of losing all your data... and considerably reducing your storage capacity! Indeed, the maneuver was successful, and the Crucial BX500 ends up with an endurance boost of 4,000 cycles. On the other hand, storage capacity has been more or less divided by 4, dropping from 512 GB to around 120 GB. Commercially speaking, this is of little interest, but for our intellect, it's a fascinating discovery.