New 128Gb 20nm NAND flash will drastically increase SSD sizes

The joint venture between Intel and Micron, IMTF, has produced a 128Gb die. This die would be small enough to fit on a finger tip and should enter mass production in the first half of 2012. That means devices leveraging the new chip would debut in early 2013 and offer a significant amount more storage than is currently possible.

Image courtesy of Intel

In addition to the new 128Gb die, IMTF has also announced a 64Gb version which has already started mass production. That die is also 20nm and was announced in April. Consumer devices with that chip in them should start hitting the market in mid 2012. The 128Gb chip is taking longer to go into production and be used in devices because the larger storage capacity comes with a new interface and page size.

All of the current flash chips in production right now use an interface called ONFi 2.x which allows for a maximum transfer rate of 200 megatransfers per second (MT/s) per controller channel. The new 128Gb die will use ONFi 3 which bumps that maximum to 333 MT/s. In addition, the new chips will bump the page size from the current 8,192 bytes up to 16,384 bytes. Both of those changes mean controllers and drive firmware will need to be changed.

So, what does all of this mean for consumer electronics? When chips using these new 128Gb dies hit the market they would enable standard 2.5″ SSD drives to hold up to 2TB of storage. The smaller drive format used in the MacBook Air and other Ultrabooks would be able to hit 1TB of storage using this new die technology. That is a significant leap in storage capacity from current capabilities. Hopefully with these new dies being available, and storage potential increasing, it will also mean the price of SSDs will start to be driven down.

Do you currently use an SSD in any of your personal computers? If you aren’t, is storage size what is holding you back? Let us know what you think of larger SSDs and whether you would move over to that solution in the comments.