Author Archive

Mark McCrosky

Kicking around in technology since 2002. I like to write about technology products and ideas, but at the consumer level understanding. Some tech, but not too techie. Posting on Quora.com as well.

What is HDD Flash Technology?

One year ago, almost to the day, IOCell introduced the self proclaimed “World’s largest capacity flash drive” at the CeBIT 2006 show. Today, you can find 16GB flash drives from Transcend, US Modular and Pretec, so why is the Buffalo 16GB announcement of interest? Well, it uses Silicon HDD Technology. Silicon hard drives are different then normal hard drives in that no magnetic discs are present, rather the data is stored in silicon memory. How the silicon (HDD) hard drive works is by heating up the silicon via a microscopic probe, this probe maneuvers around the silicon area by an actuator and instantly heats the silicon to 600 degrees Celsius. So if an area is heated that is a zero, if the area is cool and crystallized it’s a one; thus binary code. Sounds complicated but put into perspective a CD uses 500 nanometers of red laser to read and write, and thus holds about 800MBs of data. Compare that to a microscopic probe at about 20 nanometers (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter) and you can store a Terabit of data in about one-square-inch. Now, we begin to understand the importance of Buffalo’s announcement. This is the first drive using Silicon technology to achieve 16GBs. If you think this is crazy technology then you might be interested in the 50 Terabyte flash drive made of protein. Continue Reading

12% of HHDs in Laptops Will Be Flash Memory by 2009

Analysts at iSuppli Corp indicate that 12 percent of hard drives in laptops will be flash memory come 2009. I think that’s low. Notebook PC shipments rose to 21.8 million units during the first quarter of 2007 – that was a 23% jump, much higher then expected. With computer manufacturers trying to keep margins high laptop sales have become the major push. As laptops become more common as the primary computer driving down energy expense while increasing battery life makes flash memory the chosen technology for HHD storage.
laptop flash memory
Couple the move to flash with new technologies like stackable NAND flash not only will storage capacities continue to increase, but cost will drop and physical size will drop. iSuppli expects over 40% of computer sales in 2007 to be in the laptop form-factor with HHD configurations to be that of hybrid HDD drives.
“The penetration of HHDs in notebooks will rise more quickly in the near term than for solid-state drives, given that HDD vendors are increasing both the capacity and real density of their notebooks in 2007 and beyond,” Chander added. “Furthermore, HHDs cost less to produce and offer a level of data integrity that can only be delivered by tried-and-true HDD technology.”
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More On The miCard

As things unfold for the miCard today we find a picture of the first [actual] product.
micard
Here we see the Pretec S-Diamond miCard which is the new memory card standard from the MMC Association. The new format is expected to house anywhere from 128MB to 2TBs! Measuring only 21mmX12mmX1.95mm, miCard is the smallest USB flash drive in the world, with an area 40% smaller than miniSD (volume is about 18% smaller than miniSD). miCard can also be an SD/MMC card with an inexpensive adapter. The specification of miCard should be able to be released to MMCA members later this year. S-Diamond is the 2nd generation of Pretec i-Disk Diamond series, which has been the smallest USB flash drive for years, which can now also serve as an SD/MMC card, saving not only consumers cost, but also saving hassles by getting rid of card readers and carrying multiple flash cards in different form factors. Continue Reading

New NAND Flash Technology Using Stackable Approach

Toshiba might be on to something with their development of a new three dimensional memory cell array structure that enhances cell density and data capacity without relying on advances in process technology. All this with minimal increase in chip size.
toshiba nand memory
The new structure design reflects pillars of stacked memory elements passing vertically through multi-stacked layers of electrode material and utilize shared peripheral circuits. The design is a potential candidate technology for meeting future demand for higher density NAND flash memory. Typically, advances in memory density reflect advances in process technology, but Toshiba’s approach isn’t necessarily the case. Toshiba’s new approach is based on innovations in the stacking process, not manufacturing process. Existing memory stacking technologies simply stack two-dimensional memory array on top of another, repeating the same set of processes.
stack flash memory design
While this achieves increased memory cell density, it makes the manufacturing process longer and more complex. The new array design from Toshiba does increase memory cell density, is easier to fabricate, and does not require increase in chip area, as peripheral circuits are shared by several silicon pillars. Toshiba said that it will further develop this elemental technology to the level where it matches current structures in terms of security and reliability. So nothing concrete yet, but well on the way with Toshiba’s announcement and commitment to fine-tuning this approach. With computer hard drives starting to go NAND based, there is a lot at stake. Continue Reading

Nanowires and Flash Like Material Could be the Future

Over the weekend a publication came out about applying nanowires to flash like storage to produce memory that is cheaper to manufacture than typical flash memory storage materials we see today. The fabrication is a combination of silicon nanowires and more traditional type of data storage. Researchers say their hybrid structure may be more reliable than other nanowire-based memory devices built recently, and could as well be easily integrated into commercial applications.
nanowire flash
According to the scientists, the device is a type of “non-volatile” memory, like flash memory, which is widely used in digital camera memory cards and USB memory sticks, meaning stored information is not lost when the device is without power. In this new device, nanowires are integrated with a higher-end type of non-volatile memory that is similar to flash, a layered structure known as Semiconductor-Oxide-Nitride-Oxide-Semiconductor (SONOS) technology. Here’s the key element of the design, when fully charged, each nanowire device stores a single bit of information, either a “0” or a “1” depending on the position of the electrons. When no voltage is present, the stored information can be read. Since flash memory is a more expensive to produce than using the above design, the nanowire memory approach could further reduce the cost of memory thus creating a shift in manufacturing process, design and end user consumption. Not bad! Continue Reading

miCard The New 2TB Flash Card

The MultiMedia Card Association just approved what could become the super flash card of the future – the miCard.  The new design from a Taiwanese research institute has produced a new global memory card standard, called the miCard, with a storage capacity that max’s out at 2TB (terabytes)
not the real product
The miCard is expected to ship as early as the 3rd quarter of this year.  What is inviting about this standard is not only the storage capacity but the backward compatibility of the card size.  With the inclusion of USB connectivity the miCard could literally wipe-out the plethora of other flash memory cards – thus making this site much less interesting!  Oh – lets hope not! The first miCards will be able to store 8GB of data, but the maximum capacity is expected to top out around 2,048GB. The compatibility with both USB and MMC slots means most users won’t need separate card readers anymore. MMC cards fit most consumer electronics, while USB connections are built into a wide range of IT hardware, including laptops, desktops, printers and home entertainment gear. So far, 12 Taiwanese companies have signed on to manufacture the miCard, according to its inventor, the Industrial Technology Research Institute. Officials expect local companies to save $40 million in licensing fees thanks to the card, in addition to profiting from sales. Taiwanese companies will not have to pay royalties to make miCards or related technology. Continue Reading

RIM Sues Samsung Over Black

Research In Motion, creators of Blackberry have their arms up in the air for Samsung marketing a Blackberry looking mobile device called the BlackJack.
blackjack
RIM is stating in the lawsuit that Samsung is projecting false origin and unfair competition of the trademark name, Blackberry. BUT, the BlackJack does have some notable features the RIM folks are near offering, like 1.3mp digital camera and MP3 player. The BlackJack, like Blackberry has a MicroSD slot for expanded memory. Despite the lawsuit, Cingular Continue Reading 58 Comments

Insignia MP3 Player is 2/3rds Good

So you’re in the market for a budget MP3 player. Well the Insignia is worth a consideration. In addition it plays video and still images back while gyrating to your favorite tunes. Easy to use and MicroSD slot for expanded memory this little player is a descent value for the money.
insignia mp3 player
CNET: “The Insignia MP3 Player & Image Viewer doesn’t have the best sound quality and image quality could be better. It’s bulky for a flash MP3 player.”
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3X Faster Memory Stick PRO-HG

At 3X the speed of a Memory Stick PRO the Memory Stick PRO HG version is based of a new 8-bit parrallel interface that bumps transfer rates to that of HighSpeed USB of 480mbps. SanDisk and Sony have teamed up to produce this gem of a technology. The speed increase obviously helps transfer rates during download, but it further enhances performance for digital products during activity process like SLR cameras during rapid shooting or digi-cams that recording directly to flash memory.
memory stick pro hg
The news came out today, but don’t expect anything until Q1 2007. Continue Reading 7 Comments

Nokia E61 Gets Bigger with MiniSD

Take the 75MBs of internal flash memory and jump another 2GB with MiniSD expansion slot makes the Nokia E61 one heck of a power SmartPhone. Considering the Nokia E61, it is a 3G handset with quad-band GSM support. With WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity and the 320×240 pixel display in 16 million colors gives you a great wires free multimedia entertainment and work phone. Big downer, the Nokia E61 doesn’t consist of any camera – I guess too many businesses have issues with digital camera proliferation.
Nokia E61
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