Toshiba and its partner SanDisk have unveiled a 256 gigabit (32GB) X3 48-layer 3D NAND flash memory chips. The two memory manufacturers have already started pilot production of these 256 Gb flash chips in their fabrication plant in Yokkaichi, Japan and sample shipments will begin in September this year. This will be the first such 256Gb, 48-Layer BiCS Flash in the world.

In March this year, the two companies had unveiled their first 48-layer 3D V-NAND flash chips that had a capacity of 128 Gb or 16GB. The new 256Gb flash chip uses the 3-bit-per-cell TLC (triple-level cell) technology and is based on the cutting-edge 48-layer stacking process that greatly enhances the capacity, reliability, endurance and speed. The new chip can be used in various applications such as smartphones, tablets, memory cards, consumer SSD and enterprise SSD for data centers.

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“This is the world’s first 256Gb X3 chip, developed using our industry-leading 48-layer BiCS technology and demonstrating SanDisk’s continued leadership in X3 technology,” said Siva Sivaram, SanDisk’s executive VP for memory technology in a statement. “We will use this chip to deliver compelling storage solutions for our customers”.

Toshiba and Sandisk have provided flash memory for iPhone 6 among others and the arrival of Cupertino giant’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s plus is still about a month away. Although the press release doesn’t mention any clients, the development of this new high-speed high-performance 256Gb flash memory could be good news for the next gen iPhone 7. The 3D BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling) Flash memory will provide more reliability in writing and erasing data compared to the traditional 2D memory. The writing speed will also be vastly improved and will be ideal for devices like the iPhone 7.

Mass production of the 256Gb BiCS Flash will be carried out in Toshiba’s new Fab 2 at Yokkaichi production site and will be commercially available sometime in 2016.

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