Samsung's 8 GB Flash memory chips in production

Seoul (Korea) - MP3 players and memory cards could soon see a substantial upgrade with the arrival of higher-capacity Flash chips that recently have entered mass-production. Samsung says it will ship 8 GB NAND Flash memory chips this quarter and heats up the speculation about a possible 8 GB Ipod Nano to be announced in the not too distant future.

The foundation of the new memory is Samsung's 8 Gb(it) flash memory, which was first announced in September of 2004 and is currently produced in a 60 nm production process, down from 70 nm of the previous Flash memory. The smaller circuits enabled the company to vertically stack two 4 GB(yte) packages, each carrying a vertical stack of four 8Gb dies, without sacrificing space. A statement released by Samsung indicates that the firm will try to push the devices quickly into the MP3 player market, increasing their storage capacity "to 2000 MP3 files or 225 minutes of DVD-quality video (...) in the third quarter of 2006."

The 8 Gb memory technology will also be used to develop more storage space for cellphones; however, space constraints limit the expected capacity to a 2 GB chip for now.

Samsung's announcement follows a series of analyst reports that the next Ipod Nano will be delayed, possibly because of a problematic NAND Flash supply situation. Now it appears that the chances for an 8 GB Ipod Nano have increased and such a device may be introduced as early as this quarter. Particularly interesting is the fact that NAND Flash continues the space and price gap to 0.85" and 1" hard drives. 8 GB is currently the high-end for mini hard drives as well - with prices that are about at the same level of 4 GB Flash memory. By the end of the year manufacturers such as Seagate will have increased the capacity of their mini hard drives to 12 GB to keep their lead over Flash.