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Samsung to ship 16Gb Flash chip next year

Flash to replace all other media, company claims

Samsung will launch a 16Gb NAND Flash late next year, the company confirmed today.

The part will provide 2GB of storage capacity in a single chip, which will be fabbed using 50nm process technology, Samsung said.

Samsung isn't the only NAND Flash maker working on 16Gb chips, but the capacity's debut wasn't expected until 2007, Reuters reports, citing unnamed analysts who claim the part will "accelerate" the use of Flash instead of hard drives "in laptops".

It certainly makes that outcome more plausible, but we suspect the commentators in question have fallen a little too far under the glamour of Apple's Flash-based iPod Nano, which replaced the hard drive-based iPod Mini last week.

Higher capacity Flash chips will help reduce the dependance on HDDs in low-end to mid-range MP3 players, though Apple appears ahead of the curve on this one. Matching notebook and high-end MP3 storage capacities - at least at a comparable price to magnetic media - seems a long way off.

By the time the 16Gb Flash chip arrives, HDD music and video players are likely to be up to 80GB or more. Driven by developments in perpendicular storage technology, notebook hard drives should be nosing past 250GB by then.

Either that, or drive vendors will be using miniaturisation to build two entirely separate hard drives into the same form-factor as today's notebook HDD units. That will allow notebook chipsets to incorporate RAID data-security features without pushing the weight and power consumption up.

Samsung's plan is initially to incorporate Flash alongside an HDD, to hold OS boot code, Hwang Chang-gyu, head of Samsung's chips division, told reporters in Seoul today. He said that Samsung would unveil a new laptop late this month that will use 16 8Gb Flash chips.

Still, Samsung has high hopes. "In the near future, Flash memory will completely replace all portable storage devices - film, tapes, disk drives and CDs," said Hwang. ®

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