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SanDisk shows off triple-bit MLC flash

SanDisk shows off triple-bit MLC flash

SanDisk's new flash memory could cut SSD and memory card prices by 20 per cent, according to estimates.

Storage specialist SanDisk is to take to the stage at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) to present what it claims is the future of flash storage: a three-bits-per-cell chip capable of squeezing 128Gb into 170 square millimetres.

Like Intel and Micron's joint announcement late last year of a 128Gb flash memory chip, SanDisk is boasting of increase capacities. Where its competitor is using a 20nm process size, however, SanDisk has shrunk down even further to 19nm.

The result, the company claims, is a teeny-tiny chip which could lead to affordable terabyte solid-state storage systems in the near future. Measuring just 170 square millimetres, SanDisk claims it represents the smallest 128Gb chip yet available.

Smaller chips mean cheaper production costs and more storage in the same footprint, both of which are good news for the desktop and mobile markets alike. Although SanDisk is keeping quiet on cost at present, an analyst speaking to the Wall Street Journal on the matter predicted a drop of 20 per cent in cost-per-gigabyte for products based on the new technology.

As ever, there's a catch: a large proportion of SanDisk's presentation to the ISSCC attendees will be covering the technical complexities in implementing the new chips. Unlike traditional multi-level cell (MLC) flash memory chips, which store two bits per cell, SanDisk's implementation stores three bits per individual cell. The result is a significant increase in capacity, but one that comes at a cost of greater complexity.

Thankfully, that's something which SanDisk claims to have ironed out. When the product comes to market, it will likely be offered with a matching controller system which has already been tweaked to cope with triple-bit MLC memory.

What SanDisk isn't talking about, however, is performance. Typically, MLC memory is slower and less rugged than single-level cell (SLC) memory. With SanDisk's triple-bit MLC packing even more data into each cell, it remains to be seen what effect this has on overall data throughput from devices based on the new technology.

SanDisk has not yet indicated when it will be bringing its 19nm products to market, but it's going to have to hurry: Samsung is also presenting a flash memory chip based on a sub-20nm process size at the same event.

7 Comments

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Petrol head 22nd February 2012, 13:50 Quote
I have only just fitted a Vertex 3 into my new rig. If it performs as well this will be an incredible achievement
Petrol head 22nd February 2012, 13:51 Quote
First post :-)
Woollster00 22nd February 2012, 14:04 Quote
^^ fail
Krikkit 22nd February 2012, 14:09 Quote
Normally I'd merge a double post like that, but I think that failure deserves to stay. :D

Exciting development - high-cap storage sounds good to me, even at the expense of outright performance.
B1GBUD 22nd February 2012, 15:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Petrol head
First fail :-(

FTFY!
alpaca 23rd February 2012, 16:26 Quote
so SD cards with insane (for this day, I remember my dad telling me that in university, they had to share 20mb of storage with 5 people and that it was considered generous) capacities are rounding the corner?
wbdog206 25th February 2012, 09:41 Quote
I remember my first 75 MB hard drive i was like man i will never
fill this up! I would love to have these for my digital camcorders.
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