SanDisk shrinks to 32nm

February 12, 2009 // 2:06 p.m.

Tags: #32nm #die #die-shrink #flash #microsd #sandisk #sd-card #solid-state #solid-state-storage #ssd #x3 #x4

While Intel has been grabbing the headlines recently for being one of the first chip makers to introduce a 32nm process, it's not the only game in town: flash manufacturer SanDisk is looking to move its products to a 32nm die size by the second half of 2009.

As revealed over on ExtremeTech, the solid state storage specialist is hoping that a die shrink to 32nm will allow it to make “higher capacities of microSD cards” than was previously possible, according to executive vice president of SanDisk's OEM business unit Yoram Cedar. The 32nm chips will each be capable of storing 4GB – or 32Gb – of data, and are ideally suited to the cramped form factor of a microSD card.

While the 32nm die size products – codenamed X3 – are attention-grabbing in and of themselves, the company also has another trick up its sleeve for release some time in the first hal of this year. Dubbed X4 – unsurprisingly – the companion technology to the die shrink allows for four bits to be stored in a single cell. Based around the company's current 43nm die size, the X4 technology would allow storage of up to 8GB – 64Gb – on a single die.

While the capacity – and die size – is impressive, the need for additional error correcting code and specialist memory controllers common to both the X3 and X4 chips means the speed – while perfectly nippy – isn't anything mindbending: the X4 chips will write at 7.8MB/s while the X3 units can expect a slightly more sedate 5.6MB/s.

The company has not yet announced any firm products based around either technologies, but has presented technical papers on both at the International Solid-State Circuits Convention in San Francisco earlier this week.

Hoping to see some 4GB microSD cards – and larger – or has the day of the removable flash memory card been and gone, replaced with permanently attached SSDs and miniature mechanical hard disks? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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