Toshiba Starts Shipping UFS Devices with 3D Flash Memory

Toshiba Starts Shipping UFS Devices with 3D Flash Memory

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Storage read and write speeds are an oft-overlooked aspect of smartphone performance. Even if you have the best system-on-chip, lots of RAM, and a powerful graphics card, your smartphone’s flash storage — the chip that stores your data — can be a bottleneck. But it’s not just the speed of flash storage that matters. In the past, Android smartphone manufacturers predominantly used eMMC technology for internal storage, but in 2015, Samsung broke with the pack and introduced UFS storage with the Galaxy S6. UFS (Universal Flash Storage) can achieve much better performance than eMMC, and that’s why most smartphone original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have switched to it — the newest version, UFS 2.1, can launch and install apps faster than ever before.

But there’s always room for improvement. Case in point: Toshiba announced on Monday that it’s developing new “3D” UFS chips with better performance and power efficiency than current-gen tech.

Toshiba Memory Corporation, Toshiba’s storage research and development division, said in a press release that it’s begun sampling 64-layer BiCS FLASH 3D in four capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. They’ll integrate flash memory and a controller — the component that manages the flash’s file system  —  in a single package.

“[The memory is designed to] meet performance demands for applications that require high-speed read/write performance and low power consumption, including mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and augmented / virtual reality systems,” Toshiba said in a press release. “The controller performs error correction, wear leveling, logical-to-physical address translation, and bad-block management, allowing users to simplify system development.”

Toshiba says that all of its prototypes are compliant with JEDEC UFS Ver. 2.1, including HS-GEAR3, which means that they can achieve a theoretical speed of up to 5.8Gbps per lane (up to 11.6Gbps with both lanes running in parallel). Sequential read and write performance of the 64GB device are rated for 900MB/sec and 180MB/sec, or about 200% and 185% better, respectively, compared to Toshiba’s previous-gen storage devices.

Samples of the 64GB UFS chip have been shipped to hardware partners, Toshiba said, with the other storage capacities to follow next year.

Source: Business Wire (press release)