updated 02:40 pm EDT, Tue June 12, 2007
Toshiba 3D Flash
Toshiba today announced a new type of flash memory that it claims will deliver a dramatic increase in capacity without requiring a major change in today's technology. Where current techniques simply stack multiple layers on top of each other, the new process inserts silicon columns through the layers that themselves can hold extra memory at the joints. The process is much easier than before and has the important benefit of increasing the amount of storage in a given flash chip without significantly adding to its physical size, allowing companies to add storage with little effort.
The design also has the added benefit of growing storage directly in line with the number of layers in the stack rather than wasting space, Toshiba says: a 32-unit stack is 10 times more efficient at scaling upwards than today's approach with all other factors being equal. The firm hasn't provided an example boost in storage but claims that the technique could be very useful as the need for flash increases.
Concrete timeframes for producing finished flash memory chips are still in question, the company adds. As a "potential candidate" for future storage, the three-dimensional flash technique first needs to be refined to the quality levels of modern chips before it can sample and then launch the chips into the market.