Samsung builds foundation for 32 GByte Flash cards

Seoul (Korea) - Samsung claims it is first to have developed a 16 Gbit NAND Flash memory chip. Built in a 50 nm process, the device sets a new record in the storage density race and could enable memory cards with up to 32 GByte capacity.

With the Apple iPod nano deal in its pocket and more than 55 percent share in worldwide NAND Flash sales, Samsung already plays an almost unchallenged game in the industry. The company continues to increase its aggressive pace in an effort to dominate the global Flash market with a new storage density record: Samsung said it has developed the first 16 Gbit Flash memory chips, which - if combined in 8x16 and 16x16 configurations - theoretically enable Flash memory cards with capacities of 16 and 32 GByte.

According to the company, the cell size of the fingernail-sized flash chip has been reduced about 25 percent from that of the 60 nm 8 Gbit NAND: The new 50 nm flash memory contains cells that measure 0.00625 square microns per bit. The 16 Gbit device holds 16.4 billion functional transistors, Samsung said.

The firm's announcement does not only increase the pressure on other Flash companies, but on harddrive manufacturers as well. The iPod nano, replacement for the iPod mini, shows that Samsung is serious about driving harddisks out of the sub-5 GByte segment - and extend the reach of its memory chips in other consumer electronics devices with similar storage needs. "The new 16 Gbit memory device should accelerate further expansion of the NAND flash market across mobile and portable digital applications as an alternative to mini-harddisk drives and even harddrives for laptops," the company said.

However, all leading harddrive manufacturers recently announced plans to introduce harddrives based on perpendicular recording - a technology that will help to increase of storage density of harddrives and keep the distance to Flash memory. For example, Seagate plans to introduce 2.5" drives with up to 160 GByte capacity in the first quarter of 2006.