updated 01:35 pm EST, Thu December 6, 2007
Samsung 1.3-inch HDD
Samsung is developing two storage technologies that should greatly improve the capacity and size of future handheld devices, the company has revealed in advance of the Consumer Electronics Show next month. In its update, the electronics giant notes that it will soon produce 32 gigabit (4 gigabyte) NAND flash chips. These do more than double the density of the 16 gigabit products first introduced last year: advancements in the controlling hardware make them twice as fast in transfers as earlier memory, Samsung explains.
The company also explains that it will begin moving to its unique lithographic technique next year to allow for even greater density in the future. The process builds single-layer flash memory cells in the crevices of a larger multi-level cell grid, permitting Samsung to fit more total memory in the same space.
Such developments in flash memory could have a significant impact on flash media players, which are frequently limited to 16GB of memory and in Creative's 32GB ZEN only increase in storage by adding more chips to the design. Apple's iPod touch currently uses multiple stacks of 16 gigabit chips from Toshiba, whose technology is similar to Samsung's.
The Korean firm has also successfully developed what it says is the first 1.3-inch portable hard drive. Although specifications of the drive are yet to be listed, the rotating storage would fill a gap in storage demand between 1.8-inch hard disks, used in media players such as the iPod classic and Zune 80, and the 1-inch hard drives that have been phased out in recent years in favor of flash. Media players, ultraportable computers, and other mobile devices are expected to use the storage to shrink in overall size without compromising storage.
Samsung has not indicated when the hard drives will enter mass production or when they or 32 gigabit flash will be available in shipping products, though manufacturing of either early next year would point to a mid-2008 release.