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1.Solid-State Hard Drives Go Mainstream /

2. SanDisk Announces World's First High Performance 4-Bits-Per-Cell (X4) Flash Memory Technology / SanDisk press release



1. Solid-State Hard Drives Go Mainstream

Gary Krakow

02/10/09 - 09:15 AM EST

Two or so years ago, when computer hard-disk manufacturers began introducing solid-state drives (SSDs), the industry was ready for something new. These solid-state drives promised increased reliability (no moving parts), lower power consumption and more efficient storage.

Unfortunately, you couldn't store much on them. That's because they were much more expensive when compared to old-fashioned mechanical hard drives. They were slower, too.

A year or so later, second-generation drives were better. Prices started to come down and read-write speeds began to rise. Still, you had to pay a hefty premium to go solid-state (think Apple (AAPL Quote - Cramer on AAPL - Stock Picks) Air, for instance.)

All of this is why SanDisk's recent announcement is so interesting. The company says its third-generation solid-state drives are not only faster than ever (and that includes faster than the fastest disk drives you can find) but prices have now come down from the stratosphere.

SanDisk's new lines of SSDs are called G3 and they're designed as drop-in replacements for hard-disk drives in notebook PCs. Available in standard 2.5-inch and 1.8-inch form factors they come in capacities of 60, 120 and 240GB, which correspond to MSRPs of $149, $249 and $499, respectively.

As for speed, these new G3s are more than five times faster than the fastest 7,200 RPM mechanical hard disk drives you can find. They're more than twice as fast as those solid-state drives that were shipping way back in the good old days in 2008. Here's the kicker: These new drives clock in at 40,000 RPM. Compare that to 7,200 RPM drives mentioned above and you begin to understand why I'm excited about all this.

I could give you lots more technical data like how much faster it actually reads and writes information but here's all you have to know: In addition to being faster and cheaper, these drives are more reliable. Actually they're much more reliable due to no moving parts inside. SanDisk says they should be good for more than 100 years of typical usage (whatever that means)!

Last week, we got a private showing of just what the new drives are capable of. Needless to say, I've never seen anything like it before. The same exact laptop -- except for the hard drives -- completed tasks like initially booting up in one quarter the time. Watch our video to see the results for yourself.

SanDisk's G3 SSDs should be available sometime mid-year. SanDisk 2.5-inch drive update kits are expressly for do-it-yourselfers. If you have an older laptop with an aging and ever-slowing hard drive, one of these SSDs may be all you need to get a few more years out of your trusty "old faithful."

We intend to try this for ourselves as soon as the third-generation drives come off the Japanese assembly lines.




2. SanDisk Announces World's First High Performance 4-Bits-Per-Cell (X4) Flash Memory Technology

Highest capacity flash memoryenables 64Gb single die memory chip Maintains performance on par with todays MLC technology Production of 64Gb X4 based on SanDisks mature 43nm technology is planned for the first half of 2009

  • Tuesday February 10, 2009, 7:45 pm EST

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Building on its leadership in multi-level cell (MLC) technology, SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ:SNDK - News) today announced that it will begin mass-production of the world’s first high performance 4-bits-per-cell (X4) flash memory. Using 43-nanometer (nm) process technology, this breakthrough enables 64-gigabit (Gb) memory in a single die – the highest capacity in the industry and suitable for the most demanding storage applications. SanDisk has also produced an advanced X4 controller, which is necessary to effectively manage the complexities and performance requirements of X4 memory. The X4 memory chip combines with the X4 controller chip in a multi-chip package (MCP) to provide a complete, integrated and low-cost storage solution.

The development of X4 memory and controller technologies is a major milestone for flash memory storage that will provide significant long term benefits to SanDisk and play a critical role in future NAND flash scaling,” said Dr. Khandker Quader, senior vice president, memory technology & product development, SanDisk. “64Gb X4 is the result of numerous key innovations, and demonstrates SanDisk’s leadership in driving multi-bit flash memory with performance and cost suitable for storage-intensive applications such as music, movies, photos, GPS, games and more.”

X4 Flash Memory Breakthrough

SanDisk co-developed the 64Gb X4 flash memory chip on 43nm technology with Toshiba Corporation, which cooperates with SanDisk in the development and manufacturing of advanced flash memory. The new 43nm 64Gb X4 chip is the highest capacity and highest density flash memory die in the world to enter production this year, boasting a 7.8MB/sec memory write performance that is comparable with current multi-level cell technologies. SanDisk’s patented All-Bit-Line (ABL) architecture as well as the newly introduced three-step programming (TSP) and sequential sense concept (SSC) serve as key enablers to X4’s impressive performance.

X4 Controller Technology Is Key

SanDisk developed a number of innovative solutions for advanced system management that address the difficulties posed by this complex 4-bits-per-cell technology. The X4 controller, developed and owned by SanDisk, utilizes a first-of-its-kind error correcting code (ECC) scheme specifically developed for use in storage systems, and tailored to support the 16 levels of distribution needed for 4-bits-per-cell.

“The inherent challenges in producing 4-bits-per-cell technology with good performance and low costs require advanced system level innovations in multi-level storage,” said Menahem Lasser, vice president, future technologies and innovation, SanDisk. “Our X4 controller technology with its memory management and signal processing schemes is crucial to meeting the unique demands of 4-bits-per-cell memory, and demonstrates SanDisk’s ability to conceptualize and produce sophisticated flash memory solutions.”

Today, at the 2009 International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), SanDisk and Toshiba presented a technical paper describing the key technology advancements that led to the development of 64Gb 4-bits-per-cell NAND flash memory on 43nm technology node. This announcement comes one year after SanDisk unveiled its X3 (3-bits-per-cell NAND) technology at the 2008 ISSCC and was subsequently honored with the ISSCC 2009 Lewis Winner Outstanding Paper Award.