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SanDisk and Toshiba release world's smallest 128-gigabit NAND flash chip

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SanDisk and Toshiba have developed a 128Gb NAND flash memory chip only 170 square millimeters in size.

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A new flash memory chip developed by SanDisk and Toshiba can fit 128Gb of data on a surface smaller than a penny. The 170mm2 chip uses the 19nm circuits that SanDisk started testing last year, but also includes X3 technology, which lets three bits of data be written to each cell. SanDisk says the new chips, whose size translates to 16 gigabytes, can write at 18MB per second, although their real-world speeds will vary. The first products based on the technology shipped last year, and production is currently increasing. A 64Gb version of the chips is also being developed for microSD.

SanDisk doesn't mention what devices have integrated the chips, but they're likely already in some mobile devices and solid-state drives. A paper on the underlying technology will be also presented in International Solid-State Circuits Conference at San Francisco. However, despite this breakthrough, more innovation might be needed to keep flash viable in the long term. At 19nm, these chips aren't anywhere near the projected 6.5nm limit for current NAND flash technology, but they're still subject to the same errors and latency problems that researchers have found in dense memory chips.