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The Flash Tide Is Rising

If you haven’t noticed the shift yet, there is no doubt you’ll see it in 2011.  We are talking about the shift from disk drive storage to solid state storage.  Sure we’ve heard netbooks run off flash and some other high end laptops, but not until Steve Jobs announced their new MacBook will be all flash did we notice the tide beginning to change.

MacBook Air Flash Drive

I’m not glorify Steve Jobs as the man who saw this coming, no, but understanding that Apple is the largest consumer of flash memory in the world – puts a different perspective on things. Apple will single hand drive the consumer PC market away from disk drives to flash chips as their hard drives.  Apple will do this in two steps.  Step 1:  Pass along their great discounts they undoubtedly get as being the largest consumer and Step 2:  Decreasing boot time when the MacBooks are powered on. We all curse at our PC during boot up because it just doesn’t happen fast enough.  Folks who have iPads have already had the “crack” and are addicted.  This will spread with the advent of flash in the MacBooks.  This will undoubtedly challenge Windows competitors to equal the performance levels. The Wall Street Journal did a more pragmatic approach to the subject if you’re looking for numbers and details.  Check here. Continue Reading

What is CFast?

CFast is a variant of Compact Flash.  A traditional Compact Flash card is based off ATA or IDE bus for data transfer.  Since most CF cards are used for embedded applications, the forum was looking to increase speed.  They did this by creating CFast which is a technology based of Serial ATA bus.

What is CFast Card

This means the connector is completely different for Compact Flash cards and CFast cards.  So if you are thinking about increasing your performance of a CF card while using your traditional CF card Reader, you’ll be S.O.L.  The CFast uses a different connection type.  In addition, if you are using the CF cards for camera’s, you’ll have to get a new camera…one that supports CFast connection.  CFast cards use a 7-pin SATA data connector (identical to the standard SATA connector). The data transfer rate of CFast is about 3 times faster than Compact Flash.  So we’ve jumped from 100MB/s to about 300MB/s. Continue Reading

Flash Memery – Where Did It Start

So here is a bit of information one could use for a cocktail conversation starter at your next computer club meeting, the start of flash memory. The first piece of flash memory was invented way back in 1984.  Flash was invented by Toshiba and by a guy named Dr. Fujio Masuoka.  According to Toshiba records, the term “flash” was suggested by Dr. Masuoka’s colleague, Mr. Shoji Ariizumi because the erase process of the memory contents reminded him of a flash like in a camera. Toshiba presented the new invention at the IEEE 1984 Integrated Electronics Devices Meeting in San Jose California and Intel saw the immediate value and jumped on board.  By 1988 the first commercial NOR type flash chip was commercially available.

NAND flash Toshiba

NOR based flash has long erase and write times and has a full address/ data interface.  Meaning one can read or write data to any portion of the NOR chip.  The NOR technology is mostly used for low levels of read/write cycles.  So for example, NOR is great for BIOS and firmware of a device.  NOR was the first version of flash, but everyone quickly realized a cheaper, faster solution is also needed. In 1989 the first NAND flash chip was introduced.  It had faster erase and write times, higher density, and lower cost than NOR flash – with ten times the endurance. The draw back with NAND [if you can call it that] is the I/O interface only allowing sequential access to data. Meaning you can only write to the device after the last bit of data has been written.  This makes it suitable for mass-storage devices such as PC cards and various memory cards like USB, SD and microSD, and somewhat less useful for computer memory. Source:  TutorialsWeb. Continue Reading

3 Bit Per Cell NAND Flash

3 bit per cell3 bit-per-cell NAND is sampled out the manufacturers.  The 3 bit per cell is exactly that, 3 bits of information are stored in each NAND cell.  This increased the capacity while keeping the foot print the same size.  This ultimately leads to larger storage capacity at a cheaper price.  Traditionally, SLC [Single Layer Cell] and MLC [Multi Layer Cell] technology is used is USB and SD flash, but we will begin to see TLC [Triple Layer Cell or 3 bit per cell] technology have a full roll-out by the end of this year. Over the past 18 months the biggest problem with TLC is the stability of the memory and performance, but Intel and Micron feel they overcame those problems and ready for production.  More with their press release: Continue Reading

SanDisk Stock Possibly Under Valued

From a recent report published by Trefis, it appears that SanDisk stock price might be a good buy right now.  Now this article isn’t as much about buying the stock as it is about seeing the market share of SanDisk.

SanDisk market share

First, to be accurate for the article here is a quote from the full report:
“We currently have a Trefis price estimate of around $50 for SanDisk’s stock, about 11% above the current market price of around $45.”
Trefis goes on to report the market share SanDisk has for the flash memory market and in the retail space.  It seems clear with the ever growing popularity of the Smartphones, the number one category SanDisk owns, will continue to grow.  To me, it also indicates the relationship SanDisk has with retail segments is largely with the cell phone companies such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and others and this is a big driving force in that number one position. Source:  Trefis. Continue Reading

SD Generate about 50% Of NAND Consumption

NAND memory grew at a fast pace until 2006, then the core memory market got mature and slowed down.  The NAND segment makes up most the market with SD formats consuming about 50% of the market share, with MP3, USB and CF media making the balance.

SD memory, bulk, group, pile

In 2007, supply overtook demand and this trend continues in 2008 and in also 2009 this trend is expected to continue owing to high bit growth in supply. The impact of financial crises is still diffusing, and the consumer confidence is relatively low with the global recession. In United States NAND flash shipments have declined due to changing technologies and adverse market conditions. Flash memory prices are increasing which is affecting demand and supply. SSD is one of the applications of flash memory which is gaining market demand and is expected to perform as a key growth driver in near future. Portable applications such as UFD, MP3, DSC and DV Cam are major product categories leading to rise in demand of flash memory worldwide. To learn more about the NAND flash memory market please visit AARKStore for more details.  Cost is $850. Continue Reading

Where Are 80 Million USB Modems Going?

Into your home, work place, car and everywhere else, that’s where.  ABI Research company has forecasted over 81 million USB wireless modems will be sold in 2010.  Currently over 50% of those sales figures are from cellular companies pushing their services for hotspots and instant wifi connection when out-n-about.

USB modem on PC

The biggest reason for the USB modem is lack of required drivers, as it’s either preinstalled on the device or installs directly from the device.  In addition, the USB modem is portable and easily swapped between work and home locations. ABI asks whether embedded modem modules in new computers or the recent interest in personal hotspot routers (a la MiFi) can overtake the popularity of USB dongles. Research associate Khin Sandi Lynn points out that, “In the long run, more devices are looking for a network to connect to. The wireless modem market can solve this in many ways – different form-factors, air interface protocols, and increased attention to style and cultural interests.” ABI webpage. Continue Reading

microSD Might Pave The Way For Contactless Payments

microSD cardToday I read a great article on the future of cell phones, microSD cards and wireless payments. Imagine a purchase where you receive a coupon because you are in a specific store.  You then find the product, and go to pay.  Rather than pulling out your credit card, you simply wave your phone before a terminal and the purchase is done.  The transaction gets emailed to you, so not even a receipt is generated.  Not bad, and it isn’t far away. US Bank, one of the leading US financial institutions, will be test piloting the program with their employees and the iPhone later this year.  If all goes well, you can see banks, phone companies and microSD manufacturers teaming up for one sweet contactless purchasing solution. I am by no means an expert in this field, so I’ll restrain myself from regurgitating the article, but if this topic peaks your interest, jump over to NFC Times and read the entire story.  Very interesting. Continue Reading

Recover File From Compact Flash Card

If you need to recover files from a Compact Flash card then try Flash Memory Toolkit.  This software package is a free download for most features and will perform functions like read/write benchmark tests and recover files from a flash card or flash drive.

recover file, Compact flash card

USBPerformance software will allow you to recover a file from a Compact Flash card.  This is how it works. The utility will make a binary image of your Compact Flash card…it doesn’t matter if you can’t read the data or not, it’ll still make an image file. Then the utility will mount the image file as a drive letter on your computer [PC only]. From here you can browse your content and recover that file from your Compact Flash card. In most cases, when a flash card goes bad [either CF, SD, microSD or USB] the problem or error is from the partition table or the File Allocation Table.  Since this mounting of an image gets past those issues, you can get into where the files are stored…from here you can copy them out to a normal working part of your hard drive or another removable media. Give it a go.  USB Performance website with a link directly to the file recovery page. Continue Reading

USB 3.0 Chipsets to boost Genesys and Alcor Revenues

AlcorIC design houses Genesys Logic and Alcor Micro are expected to see their revenues grow over 20% sequentially in the second quarter of 2010 buoyed by increasing shipments of USB 3.0 controller chips, according to industry sources. Genesys indicated that it has started shipping, in small volume, its second-generation USB 3.0-SATA bridge controllers, with the third-generation of its kind to be available in the third quarter of 2010. Overall, USB 3.0 chips will contribute over 3% to its total revenues in the second half. Meanwhile, industry sources indicated that Alcor Micro has landed orders for USB card reader controllers for LCD TV application from a major player in Korea, which will help drive up its USB controller shipments. Continue Reading

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