And the next stepping stone on the way to uber-cheap solid-state drives has been laid. SanDisk says it has begun shipping 128Gb multi-level-cell NAND flash chips fabbed using a 19-nm process. Shipments kicked off last year, and the company says it's "already started to ramp into high volume production."
The chips are made up of a single silicon die with a 170 mm² surface area—that's about 60% of the size of a penny. SanDisk claims the chips are the "smallest . . . currently in production" with that capacity. Three-bit-per-cell technology has been used to maximize data density, as well. (Of course, increasing the number of bits per cell typically decreases their write/erase endurance, a detail SanDisk conveniently omits from its announcement.)
Beside their high data density, these chips are also rather fast. SanDisk quotes write performance of 18MB/s per die. For reference, the 32Gb NAND dies inside Samsung's 830 Series solid-state drives (which are the fastest SATA SSDs we've tested) top out at 133 Mbps, or just shy of 17MB/s. Double the die capacity with ~8% faster performance sounds pretty good to me.
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