Toshiba releases 1G-bit flash memory

Toshiba Corp. started shipping samples of 1G-bit NAND-type flash memory chips on Monday. The chips were jointly developed with SanDisk Corp., Toshiba announced.

The new chips will be fabricated with the 0.13-micron process technology, the company said in a statement.

The NAND-type flash memory is designed to have faster rewrite characteristics and higher storage volume than NOR type memory, and is used in memory card formats such as Smart Media, Compact Flash and SD (secure digital) cards for mobile devices.

The companies released their first 1G-bit flash memory last November using stacked 512M-bit chips and multilevel cell technology to store several bits of information per cell. However, the multilevel technology slowed down the memory's data reading speed, according to Kenichi Sugiyama, a Toshiba spokesman. Toshiba has been in partnership with SanDisk on the development of this NAND-type flash memory since 1999.

By February this year Toshiba, in Tokyo, and SanDisk, in Sunnyvale, California, were able to develop a flash memory chip that can hold up to 1G bits. The new product uses this chip and the single-level cell technology, and therefore still has a fast reading speed, Sugiyama said.

By adopting the advanced 0.13-micron technology for the 1G-bit chip, the companies were also able to reduce the chip size, compared to their existing 512M-bit chip, Sugiyama said.

Samples of the chip in TSOP (Thin Small Outline Package) packaging were shipped on Monday at ¥8,000 (US$67) and samples in an LGA (Land Grid Array) package will be available next month, also at ¥8,000. Mass production of the both products is expected to start at the end of this year, at the rate of 300,000 units a month, Toshiba said.

Toshiba also plans to commercialize a 2G-bit flash memory by combining two 1G-bit chips. Samples are expected to be available in October at ¥17,000, and mass production to begin at the end of this year, Toshiba said.

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