End-Users Have No Idea How Cool the UFS 4.0 Standard Is and That’s Okay

By LJ Chen

Senior Staff Product Manager

Synopsys, Inc.

By Dana Neustadter

Director of Product Management

Synopsys, Inc.

May 19, 2023


End-Users Have No Idea How Cool the UFS 4.0 Standard Is and That’s Okay
Image Credit: Synopsys

Hood down. Game on. And you are immersed in a whole new world of opportunities and experiences. With innovation today, everyday users may take technology for granted, but when you think about advanced augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR), not to mention smart cars and smartphones, it’s a whole new world.

Electronic devices have become the primary tools—the organizers, entertainers, and connectors—of our lives. But to have the world’s information delivered wherever you are, instantaneously, at the command of your fingertips, you must first orchestrate a range of disparate and complex technologies together. Standards, including memory standards, help you do that.

Enter Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 4.0, the latest JEDEC-defined standard for flash storage. UFS 4.0 reliably enables high-data transfer speeds while reducing power relative to both the previous generation of the standard (UFS 3.1), as well as the legacy embedded multimedia card (eMMC) standard.

UFS 4.0 enables richer data than ever, including getting that fat video file on your screen without a hitch. In fact, UFS 4.0 is fast becoming the flash storage standard for the 5G generation. Read on to learn why.

The Benefits of UFS 4.0

Performance is fast making UFS 4.0 the preferred standard for flash storage. UFS can run reads and writes concurrently through a full-duplex interface, two lanes of data transfer (from v2.0 and later) at up to 5800MBps, 2900MBps per lane. These performance rates are 2x faster than UFS 3.1.

UFS 4.0 is also far superior to the eMMC standard which performs reads and writes through a half-duplex interface (or parallel interface), one at a time, asynchronously, at data transfer speeds of up to 400MBps. The UFS 4.0 standard is 14.5x faster than the eMMC standard.

How does UFS 4.0 achieve such breakout performance? The physical layer (PHY) connects all the memory components through a MIPI M-PHY Gear5 high-speed interface. Higher in the stack, in the transport and link layers, MIPI UniPro interconnects the chipsets as well as peripheral components.

While the protocol overhead stays low, UniPro 2.0 improves throughput and link speed so that the data rate doubles over UFS 3.1 and improves the payload length significantly, up to 1144 bytes.

In addition to performance and payload length benefits, UFS 4.0 maintains backwards compatibility with UFS 3.1, supports up to 1T of storage, and delivers 46% power savings over the previous generation. Advanced Replay Protected Memory Block (RPMB) and inline memory encryption help guard against attacks to keep data confidential and secure.

Key applications include:

  • Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) – the performance you need while keeping power and latency down in immersive experiences
  • Automotive –ideal for diagnostics, video, as well as functional safety, reliability, and security
  • Smartphones and tablets – great for large data files, high-frame-rate videos, and online games
  • Smart TVs – excellent for video and gaming

Manage UFS 4.0 Design Complexities with the Right Partnerships

To manage the complexities inherent in higher data rates, improved payload length, and higher gate counts, you’ll need a new controller for your UFS 4.0 designs as well as the expertise to design and verify your solution.

Make sure you choose an established leader for your IP and verification tools provider—ideally a contributor to the JEDEC standard with specific expertise in the latest UFS standard.

Verify that your partners are likewise up-to-date with the latest security features, such as standards-compliant inline encryption (IE), utilizing the Advanced Encryption Standard-XES Tweakable Block Ciphertext Stealing (AES-XTS) cryptographic algorithm with 128-bit and 256-bit key sizes for maximal data confidentiality security, as well as Advanced RPBM. Your controller, verification IP, and test suites should all be UFS 4.0-compliant.

To build today’s advanced 5G applications, you need a fast, high-capacity, secure storage solution. The UFS 4.0 standard, along with the IP and verification solutions that support it, will help you streamline the design and verification process for faster closure. Your end users won’t thank you, but that shouldn’t surprise you. They will never know about any of it. And that’s just fine.

LJ Chen is a Senior Staff Product Manager at Synopsys with over 20 years of mixed-signal design, high-speed interfaces, and product management experience, focusing on mobile phone, display, automotive, and flash memory applications. LJ is an Electrical and Electronics engineer with a Master's degree from Tamkang University.

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Dana is Director of Product Management for Synopsys’ Security solutions. Dana has over 20 years of diversified experience in the security, IP, semiconductor and EDA industries. She holds a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.

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