SanDisk logo SanDisk and Toshiba creates 19nm 128Gbit NAND flash

The latest announcement from SanDisk suggests that we can expect even cheaper flash memory in the near future, as well as being able to store much more data within the same size memory chip. Jointly with Toshiba, SanDisk has created 128Gbit NAND flash using its 19nm manufacturing technology, no small feat, but not entirely free of caveats.

The latest announcement from SanDisk suggests that we can expect even cheaper flash memory in the near future, as well as being able to store much more data within the same size memory chip. Jointly with Toshiba, SanDisk has created 128Gbit NAND flash using its 19nm manufacturing technology, no small feat, but not entirely free of caveats.

In as much as it's impressive to squeeze 128Gbit or 16GB if you prefer into a mere 170 square millimetres, this was done using TLC NAND flash technology – each cell can store three bits – or what SanDisk likes to call its X3 technology. This helps reduce the cost for the NAND flash makers, but it also makes for less reliable memory. In fact, just the other day we heard that some cheap TLC NAND flash only survives 200 cycles per cell, although we would expect SanDisk to offer a vastly superior product to this.

In a normal NAND flash chip, there are usually several chips stacked inside to make up the final storage size whereas this new TLC NAND flash would allow for a single, un-stacked chip to meet many consumer flash memory storage product requirements. This would help to lower production costs, or vastly increase the size of memory cards and USB drives with 128GB being a single chip.

Interestingly, SanDisk has also managed to improve the write speed with the 128Gbit NAND flash delivering write speeds of up to 18MB/s and the company is hoping that its TCL NAND flash will be used in some situations where MLC NAND flash is used today. The new chip has already gone into volume production and should arrive in products shortly, alongside a 64Gbit version that SanDisk developed specifically for micro SD cards. SanDisk is also moving its MLC NAND flash products to 19nm to help drive down the cost.

Moving to more advanced manufacturing technologies sadly has the opposite effect on NAND flash compared to microprocessors and other integrated circuits, as NAND flash is getting less and less reliable, something that isn't desirable when it comes to data storage devices, but it's the way the industry is moving to be able to deliver more affordable products. At least this is good news for the hard drive manufacturers, as backing up ones data is going to become increasingly important.