And the march toward ever-higher flash memory densities goes on. This time, it's Micron breaking a new record. The firm has introduced what it claims to be the industry's smallest 128-Gb NAND flash memory chip yet, with die area of only 146 mm².
The chip is fabbed using Micron's 20-nm process, and it's based on triple-level-cell (TLC) flash technology. According to Micron, the chip is "more than 25 percent smaller" than a similar 128-Gb offering built using multi-level-cell (MLC) tech on the same process.
For the uninitiated, TLC flash stores three bits per cell instead of two, but that higher density comes at a cost: lower write speeds and reduced endurance compared. You might have read about TLC before in Geoff's review of Samsung's 840 Series solid-state drives, which use this technology.
Now, Micron's new 128-Gb chip may not show up inside any SSDs. Micron says the chip is "targeted at the cost-competitive removable storage market"—in other words, SD cards and USB thumb drives. In those devices, the shortcomings of TLC memory may be less of a hindrance, and the higher density could help increase capacity per dollar. Bigger, cheaper thumb drives definitely sound good to me.
Micron is already sampling the 128-Gb chip with "select customers," and production is on track for next quarter.