Samsung partners Sun Microsystems to create more durable flash memory chip

Samsung Electronics Co. has unveiled a high-endurance 8GB single-level cell NAND flash memory chip, jointly developed with Sun Microsystems Inc., which can significantly boost the life span and performance of solid-state drives.

The single-level-cell (SLC) device offers a fivefold increase in data write-and-erase cycles over similar products on the market today, according to the companies. The 8-GB device also has a higher endurance level to extend the life cycle of a high-transaction data processing server. A SLC flash memory device stores 1 bit of data in each cell and can typically last for 100,000 write/erase cycles before becoming unusable.

Potential applications for the new product include video streaming, high-transaction data processing, search engine operations, and other high-speed server functions, the companies said. The server-grade memory will offer a hundredfold increase over conventional hard drives in the number of data transfers, or input/output per second, per watt. This improvement is expected to provide "substantial power savings" in data centres.

"Sun sees incredible upside to using server grade SLC NAND flash to accelerate customers' applications, and we plan to incorporate this technology into our line of servers and storage," Michael Cornwell, lead technologist for flash memory at Sun, said in a statement.

"We have been working with Sun to develop this new...server-grade SLC flash memory, which will give IT managers the best in high-density, high-endurance memory design with markedly less energy consumption than we see today," Jim Elliott, vice president of memory marketing at Samsung Semiconductor, said in a statement.

Graham Lovell, Sun's senior director of Open Storage, confirmed that Sun jointly developed the SLC NAND flash memory technology but declined to discuss technical details of the chip or its launch time frame. "It's their device, not ours," he said. He declined to disclose whether Sun plans to sell the jointly developed product.

Lovell did confirm that Sun has worked with Samsung over the past few months to make sure that the new flash memory chip can meet the high-transaction demands of corporate IT environments. He noted the new flash device is compatible with Sun's server and storage products. Sun also plans to unveil its own solid-state technology later this year.

Lovell said that Samsung expects the new chip will be used for high-end data processing applications, data intensive server operations and storage applications. Analysts have predicted that corporate customers will soon begin evaluating solid-state storage technology as an alternative to over traditional spinning drives.