SanDisk announced it will start mass production of X4 flash memory chips, this new technology enables the firm to pack four bits of data into each memory cell, double as much as current flash memory chips. The firm says X4 technology will result in tiny flash cards with a capacity of 64GB.
SanDisk--the largest supplier of retail flash cards--is making the disclosure jointly with Toshiba at the 2009 International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC). The two companies will use 43-nanometer manufacturing process technology to make the chips.
X4 technology, which SanDisk got when it purchased M-Systems in 2006, will yield tiny Secure Digital (SD) flash cards that hold 64GB of data. Currently, mainstream SanDisk SD cards top out at 16GB, though pricey 32GB cards are also on the market.
"It is a 64-gigabit single die (chip), which is 8GB (per die), the highest capacity point in the industry," said Khandker Quader, senior vice president, memory technology & product development, SanDisk, in a phone interview Monday.
In addition to the memory chip, the die also includes an X4 controller--which manages the data flow. The memory and controller "will be sold as an integrated solution," Quader said. Controllers are the secret sauce used by flash card and solid-state drive suppliers to boost performance. The importance of controllers increases as flash chip densities increase because higher densities require increasingly sophisticated controllers to deliver the necessary performance.