updated 11:10 pm EST, Mon November 30, 2009
Samsung making fast, dense NAND storage
Samsung tonight said it has started mass production of two variants of its 30 nanometer NAND flash memory. Leading off is relatively new DDR (double data rate), multi-level cell NAND memory; like DDR RAM, it puts through twice as much data in a given cycle and promises to be much faster than historically slow NAND chips. The Korean company goes so far as to claim more than three times the speed, estimating that a single DDR multi-level cell NAND chip could read data at a peak 133Mbps versus 40Mbps for its old equivalent.
Even in a more complex device like a flash memory card, the storage could still read at a sustained 60Mbps, again more than three times than a regular card's 17Mbps. The speedup occurs even with a 32 gigabit (4GB) single-layer chip and without affecting power consumption. As a result, it can be used in handheld devices like portable media players and smartphones as well as larger devices like solid-state drives.
Accompanying the faster memory is denser 3-bits-per-cell memory; as suggested by the name, the technique provides about 50 percent more storage in the same space than more ubiquitous 2-bits-per-cell flash. Samsung here doesn't intend for it to be used in speed-intensive tasks and instead favors removable memory.
The 3-bit flash is initially intended for 8GB microSDHC cards and will eventually spread to larger cards and USB thumb drives. Notably, Samsung is silent on the specific purposes for DDR NAND and says only that "major OEMs" are getting the faster memory today.
While not necessarily a candidate, Apple is widely regarded as Samsung's most important customer and is often one of the first to use new flash memory techniques to increase the capacity or speed of iPhones and iPods.