Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Toshiba debuts 64GB flash chip: A 128GB iPod touch and 256GB Apple tablet come to mind

Dec. 15, 2009 (12:41 pm) By: Christian Zibreg
Toshiba 64GB NAND flash moduleA new chip offers twofold storage increase, paving the way for a 128GB iPod touch, and a capacious flash-based Apple tablet.
Toshiba has launched a new 64GB embedded NAND flash memory module this morning, the highest capacity yet achieved in the industry. The semiconductor giant advertised the new chip as a flagship product of its lineup consisting of six embedded NAND flash memory modules that offer full compliance with the latest e•MMC standard and its new features, including defining multiple storage areas and enhanced security.
The entire lineup includes chips in densities ranging from 2GB to 64GB. The top-of-the-line 64GB module will enter mass production in the first quarter of 2010, but samples are available today, Toshiba said. The new chips have been engineered by combining multiple 32nm NAND units on a single die that also includes a dedicated controller. Toshiba beat the industry by combining sixteen 4GB NAND units on a single die to achieve 64GB capacity of the flagship chip. The company pitched its new lineup to smartphones, mobile phones, netbooks, and digital video cameras.
Read more in Toshiba’s press release.

Christian’s Opinion

This interesting development almost guarantees a 64GB iPhone 3GS and 128GB iPod touch upgrade in the near future. Apple is almost certainly going to use its buying power to prepay for the whole output of Toshiba’s 64GB chip in order to create artificial shortages and get the best price. Such a practice has put Apple at odds with the flash memory makers who accuse the Californian firm of manipulating the market to its own advantage. Apple is consuming an estimated 25 percent of the world’s flash memory.
iPod touch (3G): Gaming (two angled units)On the other hand, Apple’s huge appetite for NAND flash chips has enabled the company to upgrade its portable products with twice the storage for the same price. Whichever way you look at it, the iPhone and iPod touch should once again beat rival gizmos on storage for a limited time. A possible 128GB iPod touch will be a milestone upgrade because it’ll put the touch-based music player dangerously close to the 160GB hard drive-based iPod classic. Apple currently employs two 32GB NAND flash modules in its 64GB iPod Touch. If a 128GB NAND flash module becomes a reality the next year, it could easily mark the end of the line for the iPod classic.
Toshiba’s 64GB chip is also a natural fit for Apple’s rumored tablet that will need spacious storage to accommodate your iTunes library. I’m only speculating here, but utilizing four or eight 64GB NAND chips would theoretically enable Apple to offer two tablet versions – 256GB and 512GB. Note that Apple ordered half a billion dollars worth of NAND chips from Toshiba earlier this year. The research firm iSuppli recently predicted an estimated sixfold increase in the NAND flash demand between 2008 and 2013, the spike mostly contributed to the iPhone. The company estimated global revenue from sales of NAND chips for mobile phones to reach nearly $1 billion by 2013. Besides Toshiba, Apple buys NAND flash modules from multiple vendors, including Samsung, the world’s leading NAND flash manufacturer, Hynix (#3 flash chip maker), and others.
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