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A (NAND) flash of the future

A (NAND) flash of the future

We here at CNET have a need for speed (just take a look at our reviews of the BMW M5 and the Chevy Corvette Z06), so we'll really be excited to see flash-based hard drives as soon as they're available. When we heard that an Intel and Micron joint venture, IM Flash Technologies, had started sampling new, higher-capacity NAND flash memory on July 25, 2006, we got excited. The new chips are manufactured using a smaller process: 50 nanometers down from 72 nanometers. Smaller processes are key to both lowering cost and increasing capacity. They allow for higher capacity at the same physical size and therefore, lower the price. As prices head down and capacities increase, we should start seeing flash-based hard drives in notebooks and other models where durability and size are critical. These hard drives should also offer serious seek-time improvements over traditional spinning disk drives.

To tide us over, TG Daily reports that the world's largest NAND flash manufacturer, Samsung, has released a 4GB flash drive that works with the Ready Boost feature of Windows Vista. The technology combines the capacity of spinning disks with the speed of flash and decreases power consumption to boot. It transfers commonly used applications and data to the flash dis, meaning a notebook can function for extended periods of time without spinning up its hard drive. It can also use the flash memory to restore from sleep or hibernation faster.

Until we see flash in ridiculously high capacities, we're dreaming of a RAID of 127 USB memory keys...