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What is Universal Flash Storage (UFS) and what are its benefits? [ATUALIZADO]

Little is said about the type of storage of smartphones. We discussed a lot the number of cameras, the processor (SoC), the amount of RAM and the capacity, but rarely the technology behind reading and saving files.

Most smartphones currently use the read and write model known as eUFS, Embedded Universal Flash Storage or just UFS, which is coming in version 3.0 – with speeds more than twice as fast as the current 2.1. In this brief article, we comment better on the difference between these models and explain how this is positive for smartphones.

With the announcement of the UFS 3.1 standard, we updated this article. So be sure to read it in full!

eUFS, eMMC and their versions

When looking at storing a cell phone, the trend is to compare storage capacity. But it is also important to look at the technology they use to arrive at a fairer conclusion.

As indicated by the XDA Developers, O Redmi Note 7 Pro may seem as capable as the POCO F1, when in fact the eMMC NAND (embedded MultiMediaCard) system of the Redmi much slower than the UFS 2.1 of the Pocophone F1.

Currently, the top of the line models bring UFS storage, something much less common in intermediates and input devices. But the trend is that this will diminish over time, taking into account that we are arriving at the UFS 3.0 version.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold was to be the first smartphone to hit the market with UFS 3.0

Apparently, the first device to come with UFS 3.0 may be the OnePlus 7 Pro, since the Samsung Galaxy Fold had its release postponed.

UFS standardization is due to the JEDEC and currently has manufacturing companies such as Micron, SK Hynix, Western Digital and Samsung. Version 3.0 was announced in January 2018 and more than doubles in performance compared to 2.1. The table below was provided by Samsung and shows this difference well.

* In the lines above the most recent versions

Samsung's most recent release, which announced the 512GB eUFS 3.0 model in February. Note that even the 2.1 versions are already quite different from the older models. Even an older model, in the case of UFS 2.0 2014, manages to be faster than a more recent one in the eMMC standard, as we see in this other table below.

One of the first devices to have UFS was the Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge, from 2015. The vast majority of photos taken from smartphones that will end up on our Instagram profile are taken with this model from Samsung.

He continues to take excellent quality photos that are surprising for the amount of detail captured. Part of the success of the camera's smooth operation and fluidity is due to storage.

As it is a process in which data is written and read in a few moments, I need to have a good writing speed to be able to write the data without having to wait long. Slower technology would also be possible, but the waiting time would become too long, which would make the device much less interesting.

Better storage technology on your phone means less crashes, more speed for opening applications, more speed when taking photos and recording videos. An example of how important investment in the area is the newly launched Nokia 9 Pureview.

Focused on photographs and with a total of five cameras and a depth sensor, it is capable of taking photos in RAW, which generates giant files, and shooting in a quality close to that of DSLR cameras in a few moments. His differential, in addition to the number of cameras, is in post-processing.

The speed of writing and reading that determines the high performance of a mobile phone

The problem is that this takes too much time from the device, making the experience much less fluid. Each photo taken takes more time, about five to six seconds, something that can be drastically reduced the waiting time to check the final result, in addition to a faster SoC.

Still, the Nokia device has UFS 2.1, which shows the importance of advancing in technology and how this is a limiting factor for increasing the quality of our devices.

UFS 3.1 (Update)

(Update 2/4/2020)

When this article was released, version 3.0 of UFS was about to arrive. But, as time goes by, technology also advances. At the end of January this year (2020), the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association announced UFS verse 3.1 (JESD220E), which promises improvements in speed and efficiency for the next devices that adopt the standard. In addition, an optional standard was also announced, the extensive UFS Host Performance Booster or HPB (JESD220-3), which allows you to store the logical-physical address map of the UFS device in cache in the system DRAM.


New generation of Universal Flash Storage to be found in some 2020 line tops

For high-density UFS devices, using the system's DRAM provides larger and faster caching, thereby improving the read performance of the device – Excerpt from the JEDEC publication.

Some highlights are the Write Booster it's the DeepSleep. The first presents itself as a type of cache Single-Level Cell (SLC) which amplifies the writing speed, while the second a new state of low power consumption. DeepSleep is especially interesting for cheaper systems that rely on UFS voltage regulators to perform other functions, but the one responsible for improving storage performance will in fact be the SLC cache.

And the third feature that deserves attention is the Performance Throttling Notifications, which warn when storage performance needs to be reduced due to high operating temperatures.

"Developed for mobile applications and computing systems that require high performance with low power consumption, UFS 3.1 introduces new features designed to help maximize device performance and minimize power usage." – Excerpt from the JEDEC publication.

The UFS 3.1 standard does not bring major changes compared to 3.0, but improvements will be welcome on low-cost devices

Some 2020 line tops may already adopt the UFS 3.1 standard, and bets revolve around the lines OnePlus 8 and Samsung Galaxy Note 20. O XDA Developers adds that this evolution does not bring changes as big as those that happen from standard 2.1 to 3.0, but improvements will be welcome in low-cost devices.

UFS microSD cards

When storage memory is not enough and you want to be able to migrate files easily when switching phones, microSD cards are a good option and of course they are not left out of the improvements. Samsung announced its cards microSD UFS, which bring flash technology to small cards. They reach read rates of up to 530 MB / s, without losing to the SSDs present in the computers.

The microSD cards have several differences and capacities, being a alphabet soup very boring to understand, but we explain in detail in this article.

The future of cell phone storage

Anyone who has switched from HDD to SSD on the computer knows the difference that fast storage makes. For those who play, it means textures being loaded faster without the buggy scenarios, for those in a hurry to use the PC, nothing better than turning on and in a few seconds having Windows ready to be used.

In addition, there are also advantages in applications, in short, any computer, even the worst and oldest, take an excellent advantage of flash memories. On cell phones it is no different and this should become more and more noticeable.

As mentioned, however fast we have processors, being able to read and write data is a fundamental process of every application and a limiting factor in technology. If we want to take better quality photos, have more fluidity in the use of the system, or simply connect it more quickly, we will have to invest in storage models, and UFS has shown to be promising.

Source: JEDEC. (TagsToTranslate) smarpthone (t) mobile (t) technology (t) gadget (t) samsung (t) xiaomi (t) eufs (t) emmc (t) oneplus (t) oneplus 7 pro (t) oneplus 7 (t) ssd (t) flash memory (t) ufs 3.0 (t) ufs 2.1 (t) ufs 2.0 (t) ufs 3.1 (t) embedded universal flash storage (t) universal flash storage (t) ufs (t) ufs host performance booster