In 2019, we have blazing fast 7nm chipsets with fast processing cores and incredible graphics and even dedicated AI, AR engines. The performance of your phones, however, is dependent on a number of factors and the quality of storage is an important one that can have a huge impact, especially in the long run.
UFS 3.0 specs were published by JEDEC early last year, but it’s only this year that we will see the storage make it to real-world devices. We are already hearing rumors of the next OnePlus flagship employing UFS 3.0 storage, and it won’t surely be the only one.
What is UFS 3.0?
Typically, smartphone and tablets have used older and cheaper eMMCs storage to store information. However, starting with the Samsung Galaxy S6, we have been seeing Universal Flash Storage (UFS) on flagship smartphones.
UFS 3.0 basically incorporates support for the latest high-density NAND memories and supports latest and smarter interconnects between your phones chipset and memory for faster and more reliable communication between the two.
Overall, UFS 3.0 storage could almost double data bandwidth while consuming lesser power. These storages can also withstand higher temperature range (-40°C to 105°C) which makes them more suitable for automotive applications.
Another important UFS 3.0 feature is support for multiple RPMBs (replay protected memory block) with multiple RPMB keys. RPMBs are hardware partitions used for securely storing critical data like user billing information, DRM content protection keys, etc. RPMB regions are fixed at manufacturing and are also configurable at manufacturing.
How is UFS better than eMMC 5.1?
eMMC, or embedded multimedia card, is a go-to memory solution for many consumer electronics, including tablets, smartphones, GPS systems, eReaders, and other mobile computing devices. Then, UFC came into the scene which is an advanced solution in comparison to eMMC. It has faster sequential read speed, sequential write speed, random read speed, and random write speed.
UFS touts a considerable improvement in performance due to the following reasons:
- UFS can read and write simultaneously
- Multiple commands can be addressed at the same time and the order of tasks can be changed accordingly.
UFS 3.0 VS UFS 2.1 Speed Difference
Theoretically, it would propel a 2X increase in speed as it’s designed for twice the bandwidth of the current UFS 2.1 standard. This facilitates a transfer speed up to 11.6 Gbps per lanes and since there are two channels, an hyper-speed of 23.2 Gbps can be reached. But practically speaking, we could expect a speed around 15 Gbps (1.875 GB/s).
Moreover, these communication channels between the chipset and storage will be relatively better trained to handle consistent application workload because of the additional QoS (Quality of Service) feature.
It is optimized for significant reductions in device power consumption and this will make flash storage more reliable at a greater range of temperatures. So, now you can capture a 4K and even 8K video without troubling the handset too much.
But, exactly how fast will UFS 3.0 phones be?
UFS 3.0 (left) vs UFS 2.1 (right)
Well, a recent leaked Androbench screenshot from a reliable source seems to answer this. We have compared the UFS 3.0 screenshots with the UFS 2.1 numbers on Galaxy Note 9, and as you can figure out in the image above, the UFS 3.0 figures seem a bit optimistic.
If the numbers in the leaked UFS 3.0 screenshot turns out to be true, upcoming flagship phones using this type of storage could see a significant performance boost.
When can we expect UFS 3.0 Phones?
At Qualcomm’s 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, Jay Oh, Samsung’s head of mobile memory product planning revealed that the next generation of UFS products will launch in the first half of 2019, and that’s exactly what happened.
The newer devices with UFS 3.0 will be available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage variants. And the first UFS 3.0 Storage Technology Phone is the Galaxy Fold.
Western Digital has announced UFS 3.0 devices for high-end phones.
Will we see UFS 3.0 storage on mid-range phones? Well, this isn’t very likely in 2019. Even the flagship chips of 2018 don’t support UFS 3.0 so, it can be a while before the new storage trickles down to mid-range segment.