Toshiba ships first NAND flash chips with faster transfer standard

The new 64GB flash chip supports Universal Flash Storage, a faster successor to the current EMMC standard

Toshiba has started shipping the first NAND flash chips to support Universal Flash Storage, a new standard that is 50 percent faster than current technology.

The company said Friday that it began shipping samples in January of a 64GB chip that supports the UFS standard, allowing transfer speeds of up to 300MB per second. The latest version of the current eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard) standard supports speeds of up to 200MB per second.

The new chips are unlikely to appear in electronic goods any time soon. Toshiba, one of the world's largest NAND flash makers, said it is shipping samples so that potential customers can evaluate the new UFS interface. The company did not say when it will release versions with more memory or move to full manufacturing of the chips.

"We will build up to mass production to meet demand," said Toshiba spokesman Atsushi Ido.

UFS is being billed as a next-generation standard for both embedded and removable flash storage, although it is likely to catch on first in the embedded market, where eMMC is currently dominant. JEDEC, the standards body behind both standards, is pushing UFS as a faster successor to eMMC that consumes less power and supports advanced features like queuing multiple commands to increase speed.

The UFS standard is backed by major semiconductor and mobile companies including Samsung Electronics, Nokia, Qualcomm and Micron, in addition to Toshiba. The current version, 1.1, was published in June of last year.

JEDEC also hopes that UFS will eventually challenge the Secure Digital, or SD, standard for removable flash cards widely used in cameras and other portable electronics. The nearly ubiquitous SD standard, backed by the SD Association, has been extended in various iterations up to the latest SDXC specification, which supports storage of up to 2TB and transfer speeds of up to 312MB per second.

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Jay Alabaster

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