SanDisk has begun shipping 64 Gigabit X4 Flash memory cards. The new cards, which are based on 43-nanometer (nm) process technology, store four bits of data in a single memory cell.
According to SanDisk, X4 technology represents an "important milestone" for the flash storage industry, as conventional multi-level cell (MLC) NAND chips are capable of storing only two bits per cell.
"Our challenge with X4 technology was to not only deliver the lower costs inherent to 4-bits-per-cell, but to do so while meeting the reliability and performance requirements of industry standard cards that employ MLC NAND," explained SanDisk president Sanjay Mehrotra.
"We applied [our] deep experience with high speed 2 and 3-bits-per-cell flash chip designs and collaborated closely with our leading design partners to develop and perfect new and powerful error correction algorithms to assure reliable operation."
Mehrotra added that Tel Aviv University (TAU) had provided a "significant contribution" to the X4's advanced error correcting and digital signal processing technology - which was "exclusively" licensed to SanDisk by TAU's Ramot.
"X4 took five years of development at SanDisk, and the finished product is a testament to the hard work and collaboration of the parties involved," said Ramot CEO Dr. Ze'ev Weinfeld. "Once we created the basic approach, SanDisk brought this to fruition by developing its advanced X4 controller and matching it with its advanced 43nm, 64Gb X4 memory thus making full X4 product implementation possible."
SanDisk X4 Flash memory cards have already received a positive assessment from Gartner's Joseph Unsworth, who termed the technology a "necessary evolution" for the industry.
"Enabling this technology in mainstream products demonstrates a cost advantage in the flash memory industry that considers 2-bits-per-cell in a memory device as standard," said Unsworth. "The NAND industry continues to see a rapid pace of innovation, and adoption of this technology will be essential to remain competitive."
SanDisk SDHC X4-based cards are currently available in 8GB and 16GB configurations, along with 8GB and 16GB X4-based Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.