updated 11:55 am EST, Wed February 6, 2008
SanDisk x3 and 43nm Flash
SanDisk today used the International Solid-State Circuits Conference as the platform to announce two breakthroughs in flash memory that it claims could greatly increase the amount of storage in these devices. The California firm says it and co-developer Toshiba are the first to have produced a new type of NAND flash memory that can store three bits of data for every memory cell. Although the chips themselves are otherwise current, the advance provides about 20 percent more usable space than a multi-level cell (MLC) without sacrificing speed: write speeds are still 8MB per second, SanDisk says. The breakthrough should allow more storage while still being quick enough to support HD camcorders or other speed-sensitive devices.
A second development is also promised to help in a broader fashion. Also co-designed by Toshiba, SanDisk says it has produced some of the first 43 nanometer NAND flash memory in a multi-level cell format. By packing more cells into a smaller space, the development allows twice as much storage in the amount of space as a 56 nanometer flash chip. Its performance has not been described but should include both 16 gigabit (2GB) individual chips shipping now as well as 32 gigabit (4GB) chips in the second half of the year.
SanDisk does not say which devices are most likely to begin using the memory, though it uses the storage both for its own memory cards and Sansa media players as well as a bulk offering for third parties. Toshiba will also use the technology for its own products as well as to supply third-party firms.