Ever noticed how technology keeps getting smaller but simultaneously faster? Just this past December Intel and Micron made the big announcement that they had the smallest memory chip ever created with 20-nanometer technology. SanDisk and Toshiba decided to join forces and do one better with what is now the world’s smallest NAND chip using—you guessed it—a 19-nanometer process instead.
And what does all of this tech-speak really mean for the basic consumer? Well, these smaller devices not only translate to greater convenience but also a fatter wallet. Once the makers of these products are able to scale down their devices, they are also able to cut down on their own costs. It is really pretty simple; smaller product equals less material to be bought on the manufacturer’s part. That means that the consumer can buy a smaller, yet speedier device for less money. Anyone could go for that.
Breaking down the specifics of this particular itty bitty piece of technology, a NAND chip is actually just a flash memory device that retains what is in its memory when not powered. In other words, it is what we use in smartphones, super thin laptops, flash drives and USB technology. The smaller these chips get, the smaller our devices can be while still serving up increasingly fast rates of speed.
The 128Gb NAND flash memory wafer is able to hold about 128 billion bits of information, and has an 18MB/s write speed. This is pretty awesome, and it is partly due to Toshiba using 3 bits per cell technology. Although 3 bit technology is more efficient than the more commonly used 2 bits per cell technology it is also less reliable. As a result, we are likely to see this particular mechanism evolve from the USB flash drive into larger devices over time.
Interestingly enough, this particular NAND flash chip is just a little smaller than a penny (which is pretty small in itself) and was put into mass production this month. Since there was a mere two or three month lapse between the 20-nanometer chip and the 19-nanometer chip, it makes you wonder how quickly we’ll see an even smaller chip available on the market.
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