updated 12:20 pm EST, Tue December 6, 2011
Intel and Micron demo 128Gb, ship 64Gb flash
and Micron on Tuesday say they had made the first 128-gigabit (16GB) NAND flash chip. The 20-nanometer part is twice as dense as before even as it keeps up a quick 333 megatransfers per second. With the option of stacking as many as eight chips on top of each other, it may be the first design to hit one terabit (128GB) of space in a single chip smaller than a fingertip.
The storage came through a combination of a planar cell structure, which lets the individual flash memory cells scale much further than before. A Hi-K/metal gate combination also keeps the amount of power leaks down as the memory gets denser.
Both companies make it clear that they expect the denser storage to be used not just in solid-state drives but in smartphones and tablets. Mass production of the 128-gigabit chips isn't due until the first half of 2012, although 64-gigabit chips are just now entering volume production and could be used for products shipping in the early part of the new year.
Single-chip dense storage has mostly stayed locked at 32GB for most of the past two years and could see a breakthrough beyond what's happening this year. Both Apple and Nokia have been the first to ship smartphones with 64GB of storage and could jump again to 128GB if Intel, Samsung, Toshiba, or others are ready in time.