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Toshiba claims flash record with 19nm process

Apr 21, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

SanDisk and its manufacturing partner Toshiba announced a 19-nanometer (nm) process technology for fabricating flash memory chips. The companies will begin sampling a 64 gigabit (Gb), 2-bits-per-cell (X2) monolithic flash chip later this quarter, with volume production following later this year — enabling smartphones and tablets with 128GB flash disks by early 2012.

The long-standing SanDisk and Toshiba flash manufacturing partnership will sample the first 19nm, 64Gb X2 device this quarter, with high-volume production planned to start in the second half of the year, says SanDisk. The announcement comes only a week after Intel and Micron announced they had begun sampling 20nm flash chips, a followup to the 25nm device the partners launched in Feb. 2010.

Now SandDsk and Toshiba can claim to offer the smallest process technology. As with the Intel/Micron effort, the resulting 8GB flash chip should enable mobile devices and SSD (solid-state disks) to pack more memory in the same amount of space. SanDisk specifically mentions mobile phones and tablet computers as target devices.

SanDisk's 19nm memory die uses "the most sophisticated flash memory technology node to date, including advanced process innovations and cell-design solutions," says Sandisk. The technology incorporates SanDisk's All-Bit-Line (ABL) architecture, which includes proprietary programming algorithms and multi-level data storage management schemes, says the company.

Later this year, SanDisk says it will begin sampling 3-bits-per-cell (X3) products, also using the 19nm process technology. In August, Intel and Micron announced they had begun sampling three-bit-per-cell NAND flash memory using the earlier 25nm technology.

Called "3bpc" memory by Intel and Micron, and referred to as TLC (triple-level cell) by others, the technology should enable an even more compact footprint. TLC stores three bits of information per cell, rather than the traditional one-bit (SLC, or single-level cell) or two bits (MLC, or multi-level cell).

An impressive surprise…but not yet in the lead

According to an EETimes report by Mark LaPedus, the SanDisk announcement was "seen as a major surprise," since the companies were not expected to achieve such a breakthrough until the end of the year. Pedus adds, however, that Intel and Micron still have the lead until SanDisk begins sampling. 

EETimes also quotes Objective-Analysis analyst Jim Handy as saying the 19nm technology is "impressive." The SanDisk technology should enable 128GB flash disks for smartphones and tablets, says the story, presumably starting early next year. 

Stated Yoram Cedar, executive vice president and chief technology officer, SanDisk, "We are excited to introduce the world's smallest and lowest-cost NAND flash chips based on industry-leading 19nm process technology in our ongoing collaboration with our manufacturing partner Toshiba."


SanDisk says it will sample the first 19nm, 64Gb X2 flash device this quarter, with high-volume production planned to start in the second half of the year. More information may eventually appear at SanDisk's website.

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