Greater Capacity USB Drives and MP3 Players On Way

The potential for vastly increased capacity USB drives, MP3 players "et al" has taken a dramatic step closer as a SanDisk/Toshiba joint venture succeeds in creating 1GB data s

A joint venture by Toshiba and SanDisk has announced a breakthrough in NAND flash memory (the world’s highest density memory) and the spinoff should see a sharp rise in the storage capacity of consumer products like USB drives and MP3 players.


To coin a phrase, here comes the science. What the two companies have done is develop an eight gigabit NAND flash memory chip fabricated with 70 nanometer process technology which ushers in a new era of gigabyte chips. That is, one gigabyte data storage capacity on a single chip.

The memory was produced using a multi-level cell (MLC) technology that allows two bits of data to be in stored in one memory cell, doubling memory capacity. The resulting size of the new 8Gb chip is just five per cent larger than the previous generation of 4Gb chips processed at 90 nanometer. This results in an incredible areal density of three billion transistors per square centimetre, roughly 20 billion transistors per square inch of silicon.


Ok, now I expect your head is spinning, but essentially what this means is current memory technologies just doubled with only a five per cent increase in size. Data transfer rates also increased to six megabytes per second with read speeds reaching sixty megabytes per second, roughly 40 per cent faster than the current generation of chips.

Now the great thing about NAND Flash is its flexibility, it can be used is just about anything from 3G cell phones, digital cameras and camcorders to PDAs, MP3 players and removable storage media like USB drives and Flash Cards.

Interestingly, Toshiba and SanDisk say there is still plenty of headroom in this new technology as well and also announced plans to soon create 16Gb technology by layering two stacks of 8Gb NAND flash memories in a single package.

Running out of space on your favourite products? Not for long.