16GB USB flash drives due this year

M-Systems will likely have 16G byte DiskOnKey USB flash drives out this year.

Users looking for pocket-sized storage devices for digital photos, files, songs and other data should see 16GB USB flash drives out by the end of the year.

M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers showed off scores of 8GB DiskOnKey USB drives at its booth at the Computex IT show in Taipei. And the company said doubling the amount of storage on those devices by the end of the year shouldn't be a problem thanks to speedy work by chip makers.

Companies that produce flash memory chips, such as Toshiba and Samsung Electronics, will likely have chips out at the right size to create smaller DiskOnKey devices for M-Systems. But if users need even more storage, there are a growing number of devices the size of a business card or passport that can hold far more data than a DiskOnKey.

Taiwan's Transcend Information is showing off its latest Storejet products, which contain mini-hard disk drives (HDDs). The Storejet 2.5-inch portable HDD, roughly the size of a thin paperback book, comes in storage capacities from 80GB to 120GB, while a 200GB version should be out by the end of the third quarter.

The company's Storejet 1.8-inch HDD device is even smaller, about as big as a passport, and can hold up to 60GB of data. It will hold 80GB in a few months.

The company was also showing off 8GB USB flash drives, and said the leap to 16GB won't be easy.

"It's not easy to develop. You need four controllers in a 16GB flash drive," an account manager at Transcend, Joseph Chu, said.

Current 8GB drives required just two controller chips, he said.

Other companies showing 8GB USB flash drives included A-Data Technology and TwinMOS Technologies.

Power Quotient International showed a pocket-sized USB flash drive the size and shape of a business card. It's designed to fit in a wallet and has a small USB plug that extends from the back to be plugged into a PC or laptop. It holds 8GB of data, but would expand to 16GB by the end of the year, the company said.

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