Print 30 comment(s) - last by Lazarus Dark.. on Dec 4 at 3:29 PM

Toshiba and Samsung share NAND flash chip technologies

With more and more devices from portable media players to data storage devices like solid-state flash drives going to NAND flash-based storage over traditional spinning platters, the NAND market is hotter than ever.

With only a few providers of premium performance NAND flash devices around, a problem with one manufacturer can lead to problems across a wide variety and spectrum of consumer electronics. This fact was demonstrated when a power outage at a Samsung manufacturing plant forced the shutdown of six manufacturing lines. The resulting decrease in output drove NAND flash prices up and decreased the available supply.

Toshiba is another big player in the NAND flash world and spends great deals of money producing NAND flash chips and in research for higher performance NAND devices. In June of 2007, Toshiba unveiled its plans for 3D stacked NAND chips, allowing for increased storage density.

Samsung and Toshiba announced today that the companies have cross-licensed rights to each other for producing NAND flash chips. The license agreement allows Samsung to produce Toshiba’s single package LBA-NAND and mobileLBA-NAND flash chips. Toshiba has licensed the technology to build Samsung’s integrated OneNAND and Flex-OneNAND fusion memory chips.

Both companies announced the intention to release products next year based on the newly licensed technologies. Masika Momodomi, a Flash memory executive from Toshiba said, “This agreement will provide a major boost for market development and we believe it will trigger substantial new growth. It will allow our customers more options - both in terms of high performance technologies and suppliers. We believe that this agreement will bring positive results to the industry as a whole.”

The Samsung OneNAND and Flex OneNAND integrate a NAND Core, SRAM, error correction, and logic circuits into a single NOR interface chip. The Toshiba LBA-NAND and mobileLBA-NAND Flash chips are non-volatile memories integrating a controller and NAND flash memory in a single package. Both products are intended for use in consumer electronic devices.

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This is good news
By glenn8 on 12/3/2007 3:15:46 PM , Rating: 2
Moving parts are so last century. :)

RE: This is good news
By Clauzii on 12/3/2007 3:38:12 PM , Rating: 2
I totally agree. And I don't think it's so far in the future for prices to finally drop to a lower level. A giant leap towards a much more environment friendly computing experience because of lower power usage and noise emission :)

Heh, and I could imagine a little taskbar utility that imitates the sounds (with samples) of an old-style harddrive for those in need of the noise. (Try listening to that at a couple of hundred watts in the home theater!!)

RE: This is good news
By TomZ on 12/3/2007 3:49:19 PM , Rating: 3
It's going to be a long time for flash prices to go below HDD prices, if they ever will. R&D spending continues at a fast pace in both of these competing industries.

What you'll probably see in the future is that small-medium storage is done with flash, and large size storage is done with HDDs. And the transition between the two will continue upward just as storage capacities do.

For example, a 32GB SSD is pretty much reasonable now (though a bit pricey), however, at the same cost you can buy at least 2000GB of HDD storage. I don't see that general relationship changing fundamentally any time soon.

RE: This is good news
By Clauzii on 12/3/2007 4:12:58 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that prices don't compare. Size neither! - And that's about the only two advantages to HDs now! All the other specifications of SSD's are much better.

That is a VERY strong bying point considering that most new products in the computer buisiness only are "somewhat" better than their pre-decessors.

RE: This is good news
By Clauzii on 12/3/2007 4:21:22 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and as revealed in this article:

.. makes me believe that 300-500 GB SSD drives will be released in, say, a years time or so.

RE: This is good news
By afkrotch on 12/3/2007 4:28:36 PM , Rating: 2
The storage size, performance, and cost of SSD would be a bad move for any enterprise network. Be it small business or large. With a 32 gig 15,000 rpm SAS drive can be had for $134, it'd be ludicrious to consider SSD. I don't think lower power usage would combat the higher cost and lower performance of SSD.

As for the home market, I think it's a great idea for notebook usage. It can provide similiar performance, lower power use, and lower chance of failure. The only problem is storage size is lower and the increased cost. I personally think the benefits are worth the money. My laptop doesn't store more than a few gigs of data anyways and everything else is on an external hdd.

RE: This is good news
By Clauzii on 12/3/2007 4:38:10 PM , Rating: 2
Samsungs new drives are supposed to be around the 120 MB/s. How much is a 15000rpm SAS?

RE: This is good news
By afkrotch on 12/3/2007 4:58:53 PM , Rating: 2
A 10k SAS drive pushes around 174 MB/s. A 15k does 175 MB/s. Course the 15k slaughters the 10k with access times, read times, and write times.

SSD just doesn't match up enough to go against current enterprise hardware.

RE: This is good news
By Clauzii on 12/3/2007 5:09:22 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, that's pretty fast for a single drive. Didn't know that :o


RE: This is good news
By lumbergeek on 12/4/2007 11:32:18 AM , Rating: 2
yeah, the Cheetah's are sweet little drives, though when she's been spun up for a while you can easily make bacon and eggs on her.

RE: This is good news
By LeviBeckerson on 12/3/2007 4:44:35 PM , Rating: 2
But, as with mobile devices such as laptops, external drives are the place SSD needs to be, because it has lower power usage and is obviously going to be a much more durable technology. "Oops, dropped the drive again!"

Single USB/Firewire connection for power and data on a one-hundred gigabyte external storage device? It won't necessarily self-destruct if it gets pushed off my desk while operating? I like.

RE: This is good news
By afkrotch on 12/3/2007 5:52:10 PM , Rating: 2
I'd say majority of ppl buy an external for larger hard drive space for their home computers. Due to them not knowning how to put a hard drive into their desktop.

I myself have a couple externals. A 200 gig 3.5" external for large size requirements, while being somewhat portable (stupid power cables) and a 40 gig 2.5" external for light data movement to and from work. Neither of them get used at home, cept for data transfers to/from it. 5TB server ftw!

Now if a 32 gig SSD was external and less costly than my 40 gig, I'd go for it.

RE: This is good news
By lumbergeek on 12/4/2007 11:34:52 AM , Rating: 2
Or we already have the system fully populated with hard drives off the motherboard. I have about a dozen drives on a machine at home, admittedly an older one with 2 SATA drives and 3 IDE drives plus the DVD burner internally, and then another 5 or 6 attached thru USB. So I have a few terrabytes available to me on that old girl.

RE: This is good news
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 12/3/2007 4:41:05 PM , Rating: 2
But for 'work' related computers, the need for terabyte size hard drives isn't there. For someone like myself who really doesn;t need any more than 100GB, I'll be going to SSDs as soon as they are somewhat affordable.

I would be just as happy paying $200 for 100 gigs of flash as I would be with a 2,000 gig hard drive for $200.

RE: This is good news
By Clauzii on 12/3/2007 5:15:13 PM , Rating: 2
Yes! I also remember paying $200 (current US$) in 1999 for a whopping 6GB IBM HD. SSDs @ 100GB for that amount?

Sign me up!

RE: This is good news
By TomZ on 12/3/2007 5:51:54 PM , Rating: 2
I would be just as happy paying $200 for 100 gigs of flash as I would be with a 2,000 gig hard drive for $200.

Not me. I've got 140 programs (as Vista counts them) loaded on my "work" machine and probably 20-25GB of data files on top of that. So needless to say, I passed 100GB a while ago.

I also back up my data to HDDs which makes the TB HDD drives very attractive since I can easily store a number of historical backups on a remote server.

RE: This is good news
By Moishe on 12/4/2007 7:57:05 AM , Rating: 2
The real benefit of SSD is on the local machine (especially laptops).

For me at home the ideal situation is simply a small fast boot drive and one large data drive. I back up to a network drive and a secondary weekly backup to an external data drive that stays protected by simply being unplugged (air gap) and protected from fire.

SDD for faster booting/OS and HDD for mass storage where speed isn't as critical.

For enterprise, local mass storage is generally frowned upon because it's easier to backup a large single server than 1000 workstations.

RE: This is good news
By Cullinaire on 12/3/2007 4:26:48 PM , Rating: 2
As some of you may remember, some of them old keyboards had a little speaker built into the bottom to simulate the ticking of typewriter keys. I don't know if they also simulated the CR CHA CHING noise as well. If so, I must find one or die trying.

My IBM model M has the speaker grille molded onto it but no speaker...sniff.

RE: This is good news
By Clauzii on 12/3/2007 4:44:19 PM , Rating: 2
Still echoing in my head!

RE: This is good news
By ChipDude on 12/3/2007 6:28:56 PM , Rating: 2
Better then some silient data corruption as those sneaky electrons leak off the leaky storage node on a NAND SSD that got read, erased, written a few thousand too many.

RE: This is good news
By TomZ on 12/3/2007 7:13:06 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, did that happen to you? I've never heard of that happening to anybody, have you?

RE: This is good news
By Clauzii on 12/3/2007 7:03:49 PM , Rating: 2
RE: This is good news
By ChipDude on 12/3/2007 6:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
Moore's law has really dropped the price/bit for NAND but the disk guys have been even more creative and are pulling ahead. Moving parts will still rule when it comes to cost effective data storage. Only look at google for what you can do with HDD

This is all great news. I will soon be able to get terabyte of HDD for a few hundred dollars for my desktop and will soon get an affordable, power efficient, fast SSD of 50-100GB for my laptop a couple years.

But SSD will NEVER overtake HDD as the flash guys are running out of electrons to store a bit faster then the memory guys are running out of the shrinking dimensions of the programming and reading magnetic bit on platter.

Hybrid HDD
By KingofL337 on 12/3/2007 5:58:44 PM , Rating: 2
I believe the next step is really a true hybrid drive that leaves the disk powered down 99% of the time. If they were to throw 32GB of flash on 1TB HDD that would be something. Because almost no one here actively uses more then 32GB of disk space. The drive would just monitor popular data and load it automagicly into the flash memory and would only spin up the disk to fetch uncommon data. For most home and business customers this would ideal. It would also increase the MTBF of the disk 100 fold.

RE: Hybrid HDD
By TomZ on 12/3/2007 7:15:35 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, but I'd rather see that 32GB flash in the main CPU address space, rather than sitting on the other end of a SATA link. If it's in the main CPU address space, then the read speeds can be very high, more like RAM than a HDD.

RE: Hybrid HDD
By Moishe on 12/4/2007 8:00:36 AM , Rating: 2
at that point it's no longer a drive, but just a large cache... Would non-volatile flash even be at all useful for something like an L4 cache?

If this could be done... well it would be incredibly sweet. At that point you're starting to blur the lines between the mobo, the HDD, and the CPU.

RE: Hybrid HDD
By Lazarus Dark on 12/4/2007 8:45:33 AM , Rating: 2
Wasn't Intel working on putting like a gig of ram directly on the cpu in a stacked form with direct links to the proc? Maybe it was for the tera-scale cpu's? I can't find the article now. It's from one of the IDF's.

By someguy743 on 12/4/2007 11:27:54 AM , Rating: 2
Check out AnandTech's review of the new MTron solid state drives.

I can't wait for these bad boys to get up to 120 GB of capacity and drop way down in price. These drives ought to be popular items in a year or two. I'd consider buying stock in this company. Just like HDTVs and everything else ... they'll get cheaper over time once they start building more and more factories, etc.

By Lazarus Dark on 12/4/2007 3:29:47 PM , Rating: 2
Spam a lot, Mtron?
This is not the way to advertise.
We are not dumb and this is insulting.
Don't insult potential customers.

By someguy743 on 12/4/2007 11:16:03 AM , Rating: 2
Check out this new MTRON solid state drive.

If this is what is on the way in the next few years this is AWESOME! I can't wait to see the hard drive become 100% obsolete. They just aren't reliable for a long enough time.

I want a storage drive that can be run hard for 5+ years 24/7 and it still doesn't fail. That's the kind of reliability I've been hoping to see come along for a LONG time. Plus the read speeds of these new MTron SSDs is awesome. I bet they'll improve the write speeds as the 2nd/3rd/4th generation SSDs come out. The NAND flash memory will only get better, faster, cheaper and with way more storage capacity ... good ole Moore's Law should take care of that.

Once they start making 120 GB solid state drives that have competitive read and write speeds AND are "fairly close in price" to hard drives ... THEN, that will be the end of hard drives as we know them ... they'll finally be tossed in the dustbin of computer history. Yeaaa.

Network admins all over the world will LOVE IT. Highly reliable, long lasting, quiet, low heat, superfast storage drives! Imagine the peace of mind of having a RAID-5 array of high capacity SSDs in a few years. Network admins will sleep much better at night without having to worry about friggin HDD failure on the servers and all the crappy, aging PCs on the network. The sooner we get to a 100% hard drive free world the better. I'm hoping it'll be in the next 3-5 years. It's time for the hard drive to go the way of the dinosaur and the dodo bird.

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