SanDisk, Toshiba one up Intel, introduce 19nm flash memory

The 2 companies produce 2- and 3-bit-per cell NAND flash

SanDisk and its partner Toshiba announced this week a 64Gbit NAND flash memory chip using 19-nanometer (nm) technology, a process one size smaller than the memory chip Intel and Micron announced last week.

SanDisk made marketing hay with the announcement by trumping Intel and Micron's 20nm chip, which was announced by their joint venture last week. SanDisk called its chip "the most advanced memory process technology node in the world."

"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," Yoram Cedar, chief technology officer of SanDisk, said in a statement.

SanDisk and Toshiba will be changing over from the 24nm chip that they currently manufacture at their four fabrication facilities in Asia. In an earnings call this week, SanDisk CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said he didn't anticipate that the recent earthquakes and tsunami in Japan would cause any "meaningful changes" the conversion at the plants.

The new memory chip will be used for data storage in mobile phones, tablet computers and other mobile devices, SanDisk said.

The flash chip will come in two forms, a multi-level cell (MLC) product that holds two bits of data per cell and one that holds three bits per cell. Typically, three-bit MLC flash is used for USB thumb drives and other consumer products that require less reliability while two-bit MLC memory is used as primary storage in mobile devices.

SanDisk will sample its 19nm 64Gb X2 device this quarter and expects to begin high-volume production in the second half of 2011.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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