Toshiba launches 128GB NAND Flash memory chips

Yes, that’s GB, not Gb and it’s in a single package too

MOST SMARTPHONES ARE still only shipping with a measly 512MB of storage memory at best, there are exceptions, of course like Apple’s iPhone and a couple of devices from Samsung to mention a few. However, Toshiba seems set on getting more storage memory into our mobile devices, as the company has launched 128GB e-MMC compliant NAND Flash memory chips today.

There are of course some differences between what Toshiba has launched today and the small amounts of NAND Flash in which the OS and most base applications are kept in on a smartphone. The OS is usually stored on either NOR, PSRAM or OneNAND memory and this is usually very fast, highly reliable Flash memory. Although Toshiba’s new memory is no slouch, it just can’t compare in performance to say OneNAND Flash memory.

The e-MMC standard will, at best, offer read speeds of 55MB/s which isn’t bad, but it’s still quite far off the 70MB/s of Samsung’s latest OneNAND chips. The write performance isn’t as critical and here Toshiba offers 21MB/s which is still at least as good as a Class 6 micro SD card, if not faster. Each of the new NAND Flash chips is made up of no less than 16 64Gbit (that’s 8GB) NAND chips. Toshiba is using a 32nm fabrication process to squeeze that many chips into a single package. Each chip is only 30 micrometers thick which makes the entire packaging a mere 1.4mm thick.

At 17x22mm Toshiba’s new NAND Flash chips are slightly bigger than what you’ll find in many smartphones, but at four to eight times the memory you get in an iPhone, a couple of extra mm isn’t much to argue about, right? This is also set to be the new JEDEC size standard, so it’s not as if Toshiba is going out on a limb here. The new solution will also be available in a 64GB capacity which will start shipping in sample volumes in August, while its larger 128GB sibling will arrive a month later. Both will enter mass production sometime in Q4, so we should see devices with these hopefully sometime in 2011.

Toshiba isn’t targeting smartphones alone with its new NAND Flash chips, as the company is hoping that we’ll see its new large capacity storage solutions in at least some tablet PCs as well as in digital video camcorders. Currently there are a fair few camcorders that rely on SSDs, but these are made up of multiple components and a single 128GB chip should allow camcorder manufacturers to reduce the size and hopefully also the cost of their products.

The only real concern is how much Toshiba will charge for its new NAND Flash chips. We’re by no means under the illusion that they’ll come cheap, but it does at least bring to mind the kind of products we can expect next year. It seems like that 64GB iPhone that so many have been waiting for could become a reality and Apple might even consider doing a 128GB model. Oh, and let’s not forget a 128GB iPad as well, as the world is going to want something to upgrade to next year, right?S|A

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