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Toshiba goes multi-cell with new flash drives

Cheaper, fatter, slower

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Toshiba has begun mass production of multi-level cell NAND flash drives, which the company will first stick into its own notebooks sold in Japan.

The first solid-state drives will be 128GB models used in its Dynabook SS RX and similarly slim mobile PCs. The drives will likely find their way to other PC manufacturers outside the land of the rising sun in short order.

Single-level cell drives used in current SSD notebooks store 1 bit of data in each cell. Multi-level cell (MLC) drives can store three or more bits in each cell. While the technology results in slower transfer speeds and higher power consumption than their single-level counterparts, the drives have greater storage capacity and are much less expensive to manufacture.

The first generation of Toshiba's MLC drives have 100MB/s read and 40MB/s write speeds and use a SATA II 3Gb/s interface. The drive controller supports parallel data transfer and wear-leveling.

Wear-leveling attempts to arrange data so that data erasing and re-writes are distributed evenly across the cells so no single sector prematurely fails because of a high concentration of erase cycles.

Toshiba said its new drives achieve better overall PC benchmark scores than 5400rpm and 7200rpm hard drives and are comparable to "selected" single-level cell drives.

The MLC drives will be available in 65GB and 128GB models, in 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch drive enclosures. ®

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