Sharp develops 16G-bit flash memory

Sharp and Tohoku University have developed technology that enables flash memory to hold more than 16G bits of memory, 250 times more than the current 64M-bit flash memory on the market, they announced on Tuesday.

Sharp expects greater demand in the near future for large-capacity memory in mobile devices, for faster and smoother high-volume data at lower power, said Tetsuya Igarashi, a spokesman for Sharp.

In existing flash memory, the memory cells are placed on a two-dimensional surface. However, developers at the two research centers succeeded in stacking the cells in a three-dimensional arrangement, a statement from the research centers said. Flash memory does not lose its content when power is removed, and can be rewritten.

So far, memory cells have been piled in two layers to demonstrate the basic technology for three-dimensional flash memory, and the developers are planning to pile cells four- to eight-layers high, Igarashi said.

Sharp expects to commercialize the technology by 2006. With eight layers of memory cells, 0.1-micron flash memory will be able to hold 16G bits, Igarashi said.

With further development, the three-dimensional flash memory could be used to replace hard disk drives, according to the statement.

The development was announced at the International Electron Device Meeting in Washington, D.C., earlier this week.

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