In this article, we are comparing UFS 3.1 vs UFS 4.0 storage which will be available on new and upcoming smartphone flagships.
Also Read: List of Phones with UFS 3.1 Storage System
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UFS stands for Universal Flash Storage. It is the successor to the current eMMC (embedded Multimedia Card) standard being used in the form of memory in high-end mobile phones from OnePlus and Samsung. With the UFS interface, you obtain performance benefits, including low power consumption like eMMC and SATA used in PCs. UFS is designed to work as a replacement for SD cards and eMMCs.
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In other words, UFS is a flash storage specification for mobile phones, digital cameras, and consumer electronic devices. It was primarily designed to offer faster data transfer speed and better reliability to the flash memory storage subsystem.
Also, it was designed to reduce market confusion and eliminate the need for different adapters for various types of cards. This standard incorporates both packages permanently attached (embedded) in a device (eUFS) and detachable UFS memory cards.
Samsung’s high-speed UFS provides faster data processing and higher energy efficiency than the earlier smartphone storage technology eMMC.
Such upgrades are significant since they pave the path for smartphones to reach new heights of performance. So, it enhances the user experience for everything ranging from 4K & 8K multimedia content to AR/VR and more.
It works like an SSD, but for handheld devices like smartphones & tablets to offer enhanced user experience and quicker responses. UFS comprises of a storage controller and NAND flash memory. UFS presents a serial interface as well as full-duplex data transfer.
Moreover, it provides more input/output operations per second and higher bandwidth than the 8-bit parallel interface of eMMC.
With the advent of 5G and the launch of devices like Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy Fold, the future of mobile technology has changed. To facilitate the next wave of immersive mobile experiences, Samsung Electronics lately started mass production of a next-generation flash storage solution, i.e., 512 GB UFS 3.1.
Before going deep into the comparison of UFS 3.1 and UFS 4.0, let’s understand the meaning of UFS 3.1:
Although fast in sequential speeds (read & write), UFS 3.0 has its drawbacks in random reads. JEDEC has launched the successor, i.e., UFS 3.1 specification (version: JESD220E).
This specification provides improvements in power efficiency, performance, and price point. (JEDEC is the umbrella organization that supervises the development of UFS and several other microelectronics standards.)
JEDEC committee has also published a standard named JESD220-3, also known as UFS Host Performance Booster (HPB) Extension. It is essentially an optional add-on to the UFS 3.1 standard. The combination of UFS 3.1 and HPB is expected to offer consistent performance.
The latest UFS standard is designed to boost the device’s performance with a reduction in power usage. To provide improved write speeds, UFS 3.1 contains a write booster.
The UFS 3.1 also supports DeepSleep which is nothing but a UFS device for low-power devices. Low power states target cheaper cost systems to share UFS voltage regulators with several other functions.
The advancement of UFS 3.1 is a key example of the continuing commitment in JEDEC to enhance JEDEC standards constantly. The idea behind this is to fulfill the industry and consumer requirements.
UFS 3.1 like Deep Sleep, Write Booster, Host Performance Booster, and Performance Throttling Notification provide faster and more power-efficient performance.
With data downloads speed up to 1,200 MB/s, the 256 GB and 512 GB variants of UFS 3.1 would make the Gigabyte sequential write speeds the new normal.
The 512GB variant of the UFS 3.1 also supports sequential read speeds of up to 2,100MB/s. It also supports random read and write speeds of up to 100,000 and 70,000 IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second).
The UFS 3.1 solutions by Samsung allow smartphone users to obtain the full benefit of the unparalleled speeds of 5G. This makes multitasking seamless, allowing you to play high-bandwidth games, watch high-quality videos, and execute multiple background processes simultaneously. Apps and games load in a flash. Moreover, a 4 GB movie file can be saved in seconds to your phone.
With the increasing popularity of 4K and 8K video recording, UFS 3.1 will make sure smartphones can capture high-quality, dynamic content at higher frame rates; with no issues of draining their device’s battery.
Furthermore, playback of those videos would be power-efficient and seamless, even on those devices with ultra-high resolution screens. These and several other power-saving characteristics make the UFS 3.1 standard breakthrough development in smartphone technologies. The battery life has and would persist to be a key priority when choosing a device.
The introduction of UFS 3.1 flash storage by Samsung includes a thrilling new chapter to the history of memory innovation, which consists of a laundry list of extraordinary technologies, including the 16 GB LPDDR5 mobile DRAM.
Those phones equipped with the latest eUFS 3.1 will only take approx. 1.5 minutes to transfer 100 GB of data. On the other hand, UFS 3.0-based needs more than four minutes.
Samsung mentioned these figures. Moreover, it proclaims that its eUFS 3.1 storage would be up to 60% faster at random speeds, thrice faster at write speeds of UFS 3.0, and even surpasses the 1GB/s performance threshold.
UFS 4.0 is the newest UFS standard released by JEDEC. After two years of the release of UFS 3.1 specs, the UFS 4.0 standard assures double the speeds of its predecessor, the UFS 3.1 standard.
Samsung Semiconductor claims that UFS 4.0 flash storage solution offers twice the speed of UFS 3.1 while also checking the power consumption. The faster speeds will also make apps responsive and perhaps even match the NVMe storage which Apple uses in iPhones.
With the release of the UFS 4.0 standard, Samsung has determined to enlarge the boundaries of internal storage which would be used in future products. This latest standard offers significant improvements compared to the UFS 3.1 standard
According to the disclosure made by the Samsung Semiconductor division on Twitter, UFS 4.0 solution has obtained the approval of the JEDEC board of directors. It is all set to reach mass production in the year’s third quarter.
Because it will undergo mass production in the third quarter of this year, none of the flagships released later this year will likely support this new standard. But when the Galaxy S23 lineup releases in 2023 with other handsets, people will witness new storage in action.
The company has also shared major highlights of UFS 4.0 along with performance details in the succeeding thread.
Samsung Semiconductor has employed the UFS 4.0 standard along with its trademarked controller and 7th-generation V-NAND technology. This is to pass the UFS 4.0 storage solution to the masses.
Furthermore, it has implemented MIPI’s M-PHY v5.0 physical layer specification and the forthcoming UniPro v2.0 transport layer specification. MIPI M-PHY v5.0 and UniPro v2.0 make sure UFS 4.0 doubles the speed from 11.6 Gbit/s to 23.2 Gbit/s per lane.
This boost in bandwidth will be advantageous for a wide range of applications.
Because UFS is equipped with a full-duplex interface, it can concurrently read and write, allowing it to offer dual-lane data transmission.
In addition to excelling at reading and write speeds, UFS 4.0 also excels in terms of Power efficiency. In terms of power efficiency, Samsung has significantly improved the UFS storage standard.
This latest standard consumes 46% less power compared to UFS 3.1 as well as offers 2x performance. This implies that you would obtain faster storage on your upcoming flagship smartphone without draining the battery life. Specifically, it can provide a sequential read speed of 6.0 MBps for every mA.
Subsequently, we will anticipate significantly better performance and decent battery life on smartphones based on UFS 4.0 storage.
Regarding dimension, Samsung designed UFS 4.0 storage solution to be compact. Design convenience is the purpose adopted behind this for smartphones and other portable electronics.
UFS 4.0 storage has a maximum dimension of 11 mm in length, 1 mm in height, and 13 mm in width. Furthermore, Samsung has mentioned that UFS 4.0 standard will provide up to 1 TB capacity (UFS 3.1 only supports up to 512 GB). This much capacity is more than sufficient for portable devices in current times.
The UFS 4.0 storage solution uses the Gen 7 V-NAND flash memory of a Korean manufacturer, and it is paired with the company’s proprietary controller. Hence, this new standard can attain sequential read speeds of up to 4,200MB/s. Note that these read speeds are more than what PCIe NVMe 3.0 standard can achieve.
The UFS 4.0 standard can be configured with up to 1 TB of internal storage. This implies that more smartphones can utilize this technology.
Presently, none of the smartphone manufacturers have announced smartphones with the UFS 4.0. But, Samsung Semiconductor has declared that mass production of UFS 4.0 will commence in the third quarter of 2022.
This suggests that forthcoming Samsung flagship phones starting with the Galaxy S23 series, would be the foremost to incorporate the UFS 4.0 flash storage in the first quarter of 2023.
It is anticipated that flagship smartphones from Google, OnePlus, Oppo, Xiaomi, and other phone manufacturers will include UFS 4.0 storage in 2023. When it comes to iPhones, Apple uses NVMe storage instead of UFS because of better write speeds compared to UFS.
Note that Samsung has not stated whether the new storage will be more costly to mass-produce than UFS 3.1. It is yet to explore in the future.
It is anticipated that Samsung will include UFS 4.0 in its next-generation Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip foldable phones. It is rumored that manufacturers are working on these phones, and they might debut as Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4. Next year, the Galaxy S-series flagships are likely to be equipped with UFS 4.0 storage.
With time, this technology can be implemented in other smartphones. Owing to the speed improvement, it would be included in AR/VR devices in the future.
Because chipsets are becoming more efficient and we are entering the 5G-led network, it’s vital to use a faster and more efficient storage solution. In this respect, UFS 4.0 is making entry at the correct time.
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