RealTime IT News

8-Gigabit Flash Memory Chip Debuts

Data storage companies Toshiba and SanDisk announced a new flash memory chip designed to address the growing use of large media files.

The joint development partnership has produced a chip that accommodates 8-gigabits (Gb) of storage. Made using 70-nanometer (nm) process technology, the computer memory chip is based on a NAND design, which makes it suitable for storing music, video and other data. Toshiba and SanDisk said products based on their new flash memory technology should start rolling out this summer.

The companies said the 8Gb chip will become "the production workhorse" for the joint venture between Toshiba and SanDisk. At a size of 146-millimeters, the 8Gb chip has a density of 6 billion bits or 3 billion transistors per square centimeter (20 billion transistors per square inch of silicon). The companies said they also plan to commercialize a 16Gb NAND flash memory component that stacks two of the 8Gb NAND flash memories in a single package.

The new NAND flash memory chip uses multi-level cell technology that lets two bits of data be stored in one memory cell - in effect doubling the memory capacity. The circuit design is less than 5 percent larger than the previous generation 4Gb chip on 90-nanometer. Toshiba and SanDisk said they also increased the speed at which the chip writes data with a combination of burst mode techniques and high read bandwidth.

Production of the chip falls right in-line with Toshiba's previously announced roadmap and is designed to compete against the largest flash memory producer, Samsung.

Alan Niebel, an analyst with semiconductor market study firm Web-Feet Research, said despite the high profile announcement at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) 2005 in San Francisco this week, the device will not be pushed very hard into production.

"Toshiba and SanDisk are showing that they are ahead of Samsung who plans on releasing their first MLC Samsung NAND in the 8Gbit version by September," Niebel told internetnews.com. "It is a battle of the big giant against the two lesser giants (Toshiba and SanDisk) as to who has the biggest chip first."

The 8Gbit component is necessary, Niebel said, to keep the higher capacity components rolling out into the market as the need for storing video files will consume these high capacity components. Niebel said he expects Toshiba and SanDisk to also develop a 4Gbit single-level cell flash memory chip by next year as well.