In recent days, several SSD manufacturers have made it known that they wanted nothing to do with Samsung’s new 32nm NAND Flash chips. Now Samsung is coming clean and admitting to the issues. The new chips suffer from unacceptably slow write speeds, and are therefore not suitable for use in SSDs. It seems the problem lies mainly with the chips interaction with existing flash controllers.
According to Samsung, "… for quality SSDs, every NAND process geometry upgrade requires a matching upgraded controller. Should (Samsung's) 30nm-class NAND be used with a conventional controller of insufficient quality, performance slowdowns are indeed possible."
NAND flash memory uses floating-gate transistors to create arrays of memory cells. As these arrays scale to smaller and smaller sizes, errors will accumulate faster. Error Correcting Code (ECC) on the controller is used to correct these issues. If an insufficiently powerful controller is used, the memory may become corrupted. Samsung is currently working on its own flash controller to pair with the 32nm NAND chips. In the meantime, don’t expect SSD price drops for at least several months.
We've longed bemoaned the real-world write performance of most SSDs, which often falls short of the much speedier read speeds. Even worse, surmises HotHardware, is the potential for an SSD's write performance to degrade over time.
"The flash memory used on today's SSDs is comprised of cells that usually contain 4KB pages that are arranged in blocks of 512KB," writes HotHardware. "When a cell is unused, data can be written to it relatively quickly. But if a cell already contains some data -- no matter how little, even if it fills only a single page in the block -- the entire block must be re-written. That means, whatever data is already present in the block must be read, then it must be combined or replaced, etc., with the new additional data, and the entire block is then re-written."
The good news is most manufacturers are attacking the problem head on via firmware. One such example is OCZ's implementation of the Indilinx firmware, which the company plans to include on all Vertex series drives. When the drives are idle, Indilinx and other similar SSD firmware sweep through an SSD's cells looking for and removing so-called "garbage data."
HotHardware got its hands on one of OCZ's new Vertex drives outfitted with the Indilinx firmware and the results are pretty surprising. After "dirtying" the drive with chunks of data, performance degradation became apparent while running the ATTO Disk Benchmark. But after letting the drive sit idle for 5 minutes, performance numbers were nearly restored to new condition.
Yesterday Samsung announced that shipments of their 32GB moviNAND flash memory cards had begun.
The cards are currently aimed at cell phones, media players and other consumer electronics, and have been made using a 30nm manufacturing process. This allows them to process and store large amounts of multimedia, including videos, video games and television shows.
“The unquenchable consumer thirst for possessing large amounts of data is now embracing video in a big way, which in turn means rapidly escalating demand for higher density storage,” stated Jim Elliott, Samsung’s Vice President of Memory Marketing. “Samsung has taken the lead in providing OEMs with the highest density flash storage produced using the most cost-efficient process technology around – 30 nanometers.”
Reportedly, Samsung’s exports of cards will grow eight-fold “from 120 million 16GB equivalent units, which will account for 13 percent of the global memory card shipments in 2009, to 950 million units – or 72 percent of the total cards shipped – by 2013.”
Apple is reported to have put NAND flash supplies under considerable strain by placing an order for 100 million 8Gb NAND flash chips with Samsung Electronics.
Taiwanese website Digitimes was the first to report on the issue. Sources told Digitimes that NAND supply will remain sparse until the end of May. NAND prices are expected to continue their upward trend on the back of this huge order. This is because NAND flash chip manufacturers are not keen on increasing production.
According to Daniel Amir, an analyst with Lazard Market Capital, Apple’s gargantuan order comprises both 16Gb and 8Gb NAND flash chips. Amir believes Apple’s order for 16Gb NAND is a harbinger of 32GB iPhones being around the corner. The same analyst had reported last month that industry insiders had told him that 32GB iPhones would become available in June, 2009.
Intel and their memory-producing partner, Micron, have recently started mass-producing the first of their 34nm NAND flash memory. The smaller chips allow the two companies behind them to make single chip layers with 4GB of storage. This paves the way for two layer stacks that can hold as many as 64GB.
This new and improved flash memory is currently being aimed at portable electronics such as cell phones or MP3 players. What’s even better, is the possibility of a substantial increase in size of solid-state drives! And it shouldn’t be too far off, either. Thanks to their speedy manufacturing they’re currently looking to implement the first wave of chips in early 2009.
It’s expected that one of the first companies to take advantage of the tiny chips is Apple, who has been stuck at a 32GB storage ceiling on the popular iPhone and iPod touch.
If you're a Compact Flash user, life's not been fair to you lately. You've seen CF stalwarts like Nikon and Canon turn their backs on this longtime favorite in favor of the new kid on the block, SDHC, in their newest DSLRs. Buy a new camera, and you make your collection of CF cards obsolete. Meanwhile, you've watched SDHC and its kid brother, SD, dominate the deals in your favorite big-box electronics superstores' weekly tabloids. And, just to add a cherry on the top of your cake of frustration, you've been thinking about how cool it would be to use wireless file transfer with Eye-Fi cards, but Eye-Fi is also in the tank for SD. Oh, and did I mention that "Compact" Flash is now the bulkiest flash memory format?
For all these reasons, Synchrotech's introduction of the CFMulti CompactFlash Type II to Eye-Fi + Multi-Card Adapter has come at a very good time. While CF adapters for SD cards have been around for awhile, the CFMulti also supports newer flavors such as SDHC and MMC+ as well as SD and any old MultiMediaCards (MMC) you have floating around. Plus, it's the first adapter to support Eye-Fi cards, albeit with a reduction in range. See the CFMulti and Eye-Fi FAQ for details and a list of tested cameras.
For more thoughts on the advantages of adding CFMulti to your gadget bag, and your chance to comment, join us after the jump.
Samsung Electronics vindicated rumors about its interest in acquiring SanDisk by publicly making a takeover bid on Tuesday. But SanDisk quickly rejected the takeover bid, which valued it at $5.85 billion - $26 per share, citing its 52-week high of $55/share.
He called their attention to the fact that the offer is a “premium of 80% over your closing share price on September 15, 2008, and a 66% and 164% premium to your 30-day weighted average price and enterprise value as of September 4, 2008, respectively.”
This is going to be a game of cat and mouse just like the drama that played itself out between Microsoft and Yahoo; and EA and Take 2.
Flash memory could become the dominant form of mass storage, replacing magnetic and optical media for many purposes. Although flash retains data without requiring power, the memory cells don’t retain their charges forever. Eventually, the charges dissipate and the bits fade away. Will our data be a flash in the pan?
Consider the trends. USB thumb drives are commonplace, and solid-state drives (SSDs) are appearing in subnotebook computers like the Asus Eee PC and Macintosh Air. SSDs are still too expensive to replace conventional drives in desktop PCs, but some hard drives use small amounts of flash to store startup data, which shortens boot times.
We first looked at the Eye-Fi wireless SD flash memory card back in February, and liked its easy uploading and support for photo-sharing sites like Flickr. Now, there are three different models of Eye-Fi cards, new partnerships with Nikon's my Picturetown and Adobe's Photoshop Express give you more ways to share your photos, and you can now find Eye-Fi cards at Circuit City. To learn more about what's new with Eye-Fi, catch us after the jump.
Investor's Business Dailysays "Hackers always are on the lookout for the most vulnerable spot on your personal computers. These days, that weakest link might be your flash thumb drive." They're easy to exploit by malware and easy to lose. How do you cope with the security risks and potential data loss of the humble thumbdrive? Are you encrypting your thumbdrives?
For a closer look at thumbdrive security, and a chance to give us your tips, see us after the jump.