Toshiba, Sandisk develop 4Gb flash memory

Toshiba and SanDisk have jointly developed a flash memory chip capable of storing twice as much data as their current largest-capacity flash memory.

The new chip can store 4G bits (512K bytes) of data and the companies said they are also working on a second new chip that contains two of the 4G-bit chips inside a single case for what is effectively an 8G-bit (1G-byte) flash memory chip.

Such advances are typical in memory technology and employ more advanced production methods to achieve chips with a higher memory density. This results in either a reduction in the physical size required for a memory chip, or a doubling of its memory capacity.

For users this means that devices employing flash memory can either be made smaller while carrying the same amount of memory or kept the same size with the internal memory capacity increasing. Such devices include digital still cameras, cellular telephones, MP3 players and memory cards such as SD (Secure Digital) or Memory Stick.

The companies are planning to begin mass production of 300,000 chips per month of both the 4G-bit and 8G-bit chips from the third quarter of this year. Production will be handled by Flash Vision Japan, a joint-venture between Toshiba and Sandisk, using a 90-nanometer production process, they said.

Samples of the 4G-bit chip will be available from this month for ¥12,000 (AUD$149) and of the 8G-bit chip from May at ¥24,000, said Toshiba. Estimate prices for the chips at the time of mass production were not announced.

A third new chip, containing a stack of four of the new chips to produce an effective 16G-bit (or 2G-byte) flash memory chip, is also expected to be available in sample quantities from the third quarter, said Toshiba.

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