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SanDisk expands its NAND flash portfolio

There are two breaking announcements coming out of the SanDisk camp today. The company announced that it will begin production of 43nm multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory and that it has made a breakthrough in three-bit-per-cell NAND flash memory.

SanDisk's 43nm MLC NAND flash production will allow the company to double the density of its memory chips in comparison to current 56nm 16Gb technology. The move to 43nm production also means lower production costs and offers the promise of more cost-effective solid-state disk (SSD) solutions in the future.

"We’re excited about commencing the production ramp of the 43nm generation of MLC NAND flash memory with its significantly lower cost benefits," said SanDisk Executive VP of technology Dr. Randhir Thakur. "The 43nm technology generation will become our major focus during 2008 as we continue to provide leading-edge technology and cost benefits to our customers."

SanDisk's 43nm production process was co-developed with Toshiba and shipments of 43nm, 16Gb chips will begin in the second quarter of 2008. SanDisk will ship 32Gb chips during the latter half of the year.

SanDisk and Toshiba aren't just working on 43nm process technology, however. SanDisk also made the revelation that the two companies have made advances in the development of three-bit-per cell NAND flash memory.

The use of three-bit-per cell technology, aka x3, allows SanDisk to cram 20% more die per wafer than traditional 56nm MLC flash which uses two-bits-per-cell technology.

"We consider x3 as a major commercial breakthrough for flash memory that will extend Moore’s Law in this and future generations of NAND flash storage," remarked Dr. Khandker N. Quader, SanDisk's senior vice president of flash memory design and product development.

SanDisk expects to have commercial samples of its "x3" NAND flash memory available in the March/April timeframe.

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Cycle lifetime ?
By kilkennycat on 2/6/2008 9:01:27 PM , Rating: 1
Sure would like to know the true cycle lifetime of all this wonderful SSD technology. Especially when used to replace a hard-disk in a computer. Now that we shall have such fast write-access, it should only take an hour or so for a malicious piece of software running in background (virus, anybody ??) to 'burn a permanent hole' in one's expensive SSD storage...enough write cycles that there is no read-life left.... regardless of (er) "wear-leveling" technology. The relatively slow speed of conventional magnetic-disk access is also an inferential protection-mechanism against wear-out. Anyway, magnetic disks can handle many, many millions of write-read cycles - those floating-heads really do float above the platters.

RE: Cycle lifetime ?
By Kaldskryke on 2/7/2008 9:59:15 AM , Rating: 2
NAND lifetime issues are brought up over and over and over again, but it's really not much of an issue. Let's look at a "worst cast scenario"

Capacity: 16GB (rather small)
Write Endurance 100,000 cycles (on the low side ~MLC)
Write Speed 80MB/s constant (VERY quick for MLC)
For this it would take 237 days to wear through the drive. If someone gets a virus that does nothing but write at 80MB/s I'm sure they'd notice the massive loss of performance sometime before 237 days passes by.

But this is a worst case scenario. With such high capacity as 43nm 3x MLC NAND offers, I really doubt anybody is going to buy anything less than 64GB. And as for conventional use? No regular desktop user is going to be writing at 80MB/s constantly.

The moral of the story is that except for very unlikely usage situations, SSDs will last longer than regular hard drives on average. They just don't work great for backup (data loss after 10 years of inactivity).

Although it's a bit old, please read through this:

RE: Cycle lifetime ?
By PandaBear on 2/7/2008 8:30:36 PM , Rating: 2

MLC doesn't get 100k cycles, that's SLC. X3 should get even worse at probably about 3000 cycles. So they are not using it for SSD for sure, most likely it will end up in their base model card for digital camera or camcorder (or mp3 player).

"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs
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