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 1 Comment

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 5 Comments

SD Class Break Down

SD cards come in all sorts of GB sizes and speeds.  Today I thought it a good idea to take a look inside an SD card along with breaking out the speed differences.

sd class

To start, the SD media is broken down into “Classes”  The Class depicts the speeds at which a device reads and writes.
 
There are different speed grades available, measured the same as CD-ROMs, in multiples of 150 kB/s (1x = 150 kB/s). Basic cards transfer data up to six times (6x) the data rate of the standard CD-ROM speed (900 kB/s vs. 150 kB/s).
 
The maximum read speed and maximum write speed may be different. Maximum write speed typically is lower than maximum read speed. Some digital cameras require high-speed cards (write speed) to record video smoothly or capture multiple still photographs in rapid succession. This requires a certain sustained speed, or the video stops recording. For recording, a high maximum speed with a low sustained speed is no better than a low speed card. The 2.0 specification defines speeds up to 200x.
 
Some manufacturers use the read speed in their X-ratings, while others (Kingston, for example) use write speed.

sd class speed

SD Cards and SDHC Cards have Speed Class Ratings defined by the SD Association. The SD Speed Class Ratings specify the following minimum write speeds based on “the best fragmented state where no memory unit is occupied”:[9]
  • Class 2: 2 MByte/s – 13x
  • Class 4: 4 MByte/s – 26x
  • Class 6: 6 MByte/s – 40x
SD and SDHC cards will often also advertise a maximum speed (such as Continue Reading 6 Comments

Samsung Getting Into Retail Flash Memory Sales

For those who know, the Samsung branded NAND flash memory is considered the Tier 1 quality that everyone talks about.  It’s the best stuff out there…highest quality, best in performance, yet always a touch above others [Micron, Hynix, etc] in price.

Samsung flash

Well that might change because Samsung is entering the retail market with their solid state flash of Secure Digital, Compact Flash and microSD media. Samsung will release sizes from 4GB to 16GB capacity before the end of 2009.  These cards will be in the ‘Plus’ memory card class and compliant with the Secure Digital class 6 performance standards.  Cards boust a speed range of 17Mbps to 45Mbps. Continue Reading 2 Comments

Samson Q3 Is Portable Video Recorder With 32Gigs

Samson just released a great looking product, the Q3.  It’s a hand held video recorder and what is particularly nice about this unit, is the huge microphone perched at the top.  Now it’s easier than ever to capture that perfect moment – in both video and audio.

Samson Q3

In addition to the well positioned microphone, the Samson Q3 also has an expansion slot via SD card for additional memory capacity.  Up to 32GBs to be exact.  Thus the title of the article.

Samson Q3 SD slot

The Samson Q3 also has VGA output so you can easily connect the device to your TV for instant viewing. Use HandyShare to edit and share video on your favorite websites including YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. You can connect the video recorder to your computer via USB connection. Continue Reading

Boot Your MacBook Pro From SD Slot

macbook pro sd slotMacWorld posted an article about a French website getting the MacBook Pro to boot from a SD card in the SD slot.  Not a huge feat, but I think it’s an indication that laptop manufacturers, both PC and Mac, will continue going down the road of being Optical-less [if that’s a world]. If you are a MacBook Pro owner and interested in this bootability, please visit the following link: here. The MacWorld article also mentioned a new SD format of SDXC which is based off the new Windows exFAT format for extended FAT and FAT32 sizes.  I’ll dig up some research on this and report back. Source: MacWorld. Continue Reading 54 Comments

TASCAM’s Digital Pocketstudio Records to SD Cards

The TASCAM’s DP-004 Digital Pocketstudio is based on 30 years of easy-to-use cassette Portastudios, and updated with four tracks of CD-quality digital recording. Like those groundbreaking Portastudios, a row of knobs set levels and pan instead of a list of menus.

tascam pocketstudio

The DP-004 can record two sources at once to the included 1GB SD Card. A built-in stereo condenser microphone makes it simple to record anywhere you go, perfect for concerts, rehearsals and songwriting inspirations. A pair of 1/4″ jacks on the rear panel allow you to connect your own microphones or sources. You can even switch the inputs to guitar level for recording. You can connect to the Pocketstudio via two 1/4″ mic line inputs, switchable guitar input, headphone line out or USB 2.0 connection. For recording options you have four track digital multitrack recording with 44.1kHz/16-bit WAV recording.  The unit records directly to SD cards with autopunch, repeat and record undo functions.  You can also have a dedicated stereo mixdown track. As for power, just a couple AA batteries will keep this going for nearly 8 hours. Street price is right at $200 bills. TASCAM Pocketstudio product page. Continue Reading 4 Comments

SanDisk & LG Locking Data to microSD Cards

SanDisk and LG developed technology to lock data to a microSD card.  Their goal was to data load information to a microSD card which could only be used with a specific device.  This ability would insure content isn’t used with other devices or copied over to another user for unauthorized use.

data lock microsd

These cards could help to make a particular handset or plan more attractive to a subscriber by offering songs, movies, maps for GPS (Global Positioning System) navigation or applications. However, locking the card will ensure consumers couldn’t use the content elsewhere.
SanDisk reports the data lock portion could be updated remotely via IP protocols which means a vendor could update music lists, content and video depending on the subscribers requirements, needs or membership. Some critics believe this technology is coming at a bad time, since users enjoy cross platform sharing for their music, along with Apples move towards less DRM on their music.  However, what these critics don’t see is the need to protect other types of intellectual property.  Although music and video is the big numbers, mainstream target market, there is an infinite need in the pro-sumer and corporate world for data lock and protection. Continue Reading 26 Comments

Hack: Use SD Card With Disposable Digital Camera

With the economy being a bit tight and many folks finding themselves either out of work or some extra time on their hands, it might be worth interest to check out this SD card hack to run a disposable camera off the tracks…and turn it into a re-usable digital camera. The meat of the tutorial is to replace some of the disposable camera’s guts with more permanent memory for re-usable applications. Granted it’s not the best digital camera in town, but if you’ve got the time, need to save some cash this might be a great, fun project. It’s also an ideal digital camera to send to school with the kids. Here’s the full video tutorial.
Digital Camera Hack! Secret The Stores Don’t Want You To Know! – video powered by Metacafe Have fun! Continue Reading

Samsung Considers Bid For SanDisk

Samsung is looking to strengthen their digital memory storage line with a possible purchase of SanDisk.  SanDisk is currently the #1 supplier of solid state flash memory, world wide [such as Secure Digital, miniSD, microSD and many more].  Samsung is the top producer of flash memory chips.

samsung sandisk buy out

Through an acquisition, Samsung would strengthen it’s channel for supplying it’s flash chip to retail and channel sales of end-user flash memory. With weak chip prices and fluctuating buyer habits, a move like this could strengthen Samsung’s position and would put Samsung at over 50% of world wide control of production, distribution and sales of NAND flash memory.
Avi Cohen of Avian Securities said it was an “unlikely prospect” due to SanDisk being unwilling to sell at the bottom of the cycle, and Samsung becoming a direct competitor to many of its customers and regulatory concerns. “Regulators in the US, Korea and Europe among others will likely have issue with one player controlling north of 50 per cent of NAND [Flash memory] supply,” he said.
Another option is Samsung reducing it’s royalty license to SanDisk to gain synergy with the top seller, reduce SanDisk’s bottom line and secure channel distribution of flash memory.
However if a deal goes ahead, it could block efforts by Samsung rivals Toshiba and Hynix Semiconductor to topple Samsung’s market leadership. Toshiba runs joint production lines with SanDisk and Hynix is also conducting joint re-search with the US group. Samsung controls 42.3 per cent of the NAND flash memory market, trailed by Toshiba with 27.5 per cent and Hynix with 13.4 per cent, says market researcher iSuppli.
Source:  Financial Times. Continue Reading 2 Comments

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