The popularity of flash memory has risen dramatically in recent years. First, there were MP3 players and thumb drives. Then along came smartphones and tablets. There’s been demand from SSDs, too, although they typically use different chips than those employed by mobile devices. Solid-state drives aren’t consuming anywhere near as much NAND as mobile devices.
With demand high and no sign of it letting up, flash memory makers may be poised to raise prices. "Industry sources" quoted by DigiTimes expect Samsung, Toshiba, SanDisk, and SK Hynix to increase NAND prices by 10-15% by the middle of November. Such a change seems unlikely to affect devices, which typically command a hefty premium for every step up the capacity ladder. Google, for example, charges an extra 50 bucks to take its Nexus 7 tablet from 8GB to 16GB—far more than the cost of the higher-capacity chip.
While flash makers haven’t confirmed any plans to hike prices, one of them has started making higher-density chips. Samsung has begun mass-producing 128GB eMMC NAND modules designed for mobile devices. Measuring just 12 x 16 mm, these eMMC modules are basically mini SSDs. They combine 16 64Gb NAND dies with controller logic and firmware in a single package.
According to Samsung, the 128GB eMMC Pro product offers sequential read and write speeds of 150MB/s and 40MB/s, respectively. The chip is purportedly capable of hitting 3500/1500 random read/write IOps, as well. Those numbers may not be that impressive in the context of 2.5" solid-state drives, but we’re talking about something that’ll likely pop up in the next-gen Samsung Galaxy.