ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS, INC. RELEASES PERFORMANCE RESEARCH ON MLC NAND FLASH MEMORY
FOR CONSUMER APPLICATIONS
Party Bandwidth Requirements Illustrate that MLC NAND Meets the Read/Write Speed
and Data Integrity Requirements of Consumer Electronics Applications
May 10, 2004 -- In an effort to increase its customers' knowledge of NAND-based
storage products, Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. (TAEC)* has published
an application note titled, "MLC NAND Performance for Consumer Applications,"
which provides performance characteristics for both single-level cell (SLC) and
multi-level cell (MLC) NAND Flash memory. It also includes information on bandwidth
requirements for many typical consumer applications, from playing music to streaming
digital video. Based on the results of the study, TAEC announced that its latest
multi-level cell (MLC) NAND Flash memory chips surpass the reliability and performance
requirements of most consumer electronics applications.
increased bandwidth of the company's latest MLC NAND Flash, developed by Toshiba
Corp. (Toshiba), exceeds the minimum read and write requirements of some file
formats by as much as a factor of 20, going beyond the necessary functionality
and reliability for the majority of today's consumer electronics applications.
Toshiba recently introduced the semiconductor industry's first 4-gigabit1
(Gb) single-die MLC NAND Flash device, produced with 90-nanometer (nm) process
technology. The new high-density memory device enables faster write performance
by implementing advanced design concepts and adjusting the control system of the
Based on extensive internal and external testing by TAEC, combined with published
bandwidth requirements for various digital video and music formats, Toshiba's
MLC NAND devices can offer more than sufficient performance to support the minimum
read-and-write specifications of various digital video file formats, including
MPEG2, MPEG4 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) or H.264, Windows Media® 9.0 files;
standard digital audio file formats, including MP3 and WMA files; and a range
of Microsoft® Office applications, including Excel, Word, and PowerPoint®
offers both SLC and MLC NAND Flash to provide a range of value and performance
solutions for our customers. For many consumer applications, including MP3 players,
many digital camcorders, digital cameras and USB drives, we have found that MLC
NAND Flash provides a reliable, cost efficient solution to meet the increasing
densities that will enable new applications," said Scott Nelson, business development
director for memory products at TAEC.
continued, "This data illustrates that MLC NAND Flash is well suited for a host
of different applications, delivering more than sufficient read and write performance
and reliability for office productivity, digital video, and digital audio files.
The increased write speed offered by Toshiba's latest generation 90nm chips further
extends the range of applications for MLC NAND Flash in memory cards and USB drives.
As a result, our customers and consumers can feel completely confident in using
MLC NAND-based products, which in many cases can provide a better performance/value
choice than SLC NAND."
MLC NAND Powers DVD-Quality Digital Video Applications
MLC NAND Flash devices deliver read and write times of 108 megabits2
per second (Mb/s) and 20 Mb/s, respectively. This is more than sufficient to support
DVD quality video applications, which require a bandwidth of 6Mb/s to 8Mb/s for
MPEG2, 720 x 480 digital video3, 2Mb/s to 4Mb/s for Windows Media 9
digital video3, and 3Mb/s to 4Mb/s for H.264/MPEG4 720 x 480 digital
video4. MLC NAND Flash also meets or exceeds the bandwidth requirements
for high definition (HD) DVD video, which are 19Mb/s to 20Mb/s for MPEG2, 1280x720
video3, 5Mb/s to 8Mb/s for Windows Media 9 1280 x 720 video3,
and 6Mb/s to 7Mb/s for H.64/MPEG4 1280 x720 video5.
Storage for Digital Music
Storing and playing digital music is another
application for which Toshiba MLC NAND Flash is well suited and offers a cost-effective
solution. The minimum bandwidth to play either MP35 or WMA5
files is approximately 128 kilobits6/second (kbps), a small fraction
of the 108Mb/s read speed of Toshiba large block MLC NAND. A typical MP3 song
is about 4 megabytes7 (MB) of memory. With the MLC write speed of 20Mb/sec
(2.5MB per second (MB/s)), it takes less than 2 seconds to download a song. As
a result, the specifications of Toshiba MLC NAND Flash technology exceed those
required for the downloading and playback of digital music.
Application Data Storage Performance
For typical office applications, such
as Microsoft Office, Excel, PowerPoint and Word, Toshiba MLC NAND Flash can deliver
sufficient bandwidth for the reading and writing of these files, demonstrating
that MLC performance is suitable for MLC NAND-based USB drives. Expressed in megabytes
per second, the read and write speeds of Toshiba large block MLC NAND are 13.55
MB/s and 2.5 MB/s, respectively.
To test the time required to download typical size Word, Excel and PowerPoint
files, TAEC simulated files stored on its servers, determining the media, average
and maximum file sizes for each application to get a typical representation of
documents in an enterprise environment. The average size documents were 159 kilobytes
(kB), 528kB, and 1.18MB, respectively, for Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.
For these documents, the time required to read the average Word, Excel, and Power
point document is less than a second, which is more than sufficient to satisfy
today's consumer and business users of USB Flash Drives for business applications.
Details on the median and maximum sized documents can be found in the application
note titled "MLC NAND Performance for Consumer Applications" at mlcnand.toshiba.com.
Reliability for Consumer Applications
Contrary to some industry perceptions,
MLC NAND Flash offers excellent reliability for consumer applications, even though
MLC NAND has a lower rating for the number of write/erase cycles compared to SLC
NAND. Currently, Toshiba SLC NAND Flash is rated to have approximately 100,000
cycles, while Toshiba MLC NAND Flash is rated to have approximately 10,000 cycles.
While there are applications for which SLC NAND is better suited, the 10,000 cycles
of MLC NAND is more than sufficient for a wide range of consumer applications,
from storing documents to digital photos. For example, if a 256MB MLC NAND Flash-based
card can typically store 250 pictures from a 4-megapixel camera (a conservative
estimate), its 10,000 write/erase cycles, combined with wear-leveling algorithms
in the controller, will enable the user to store and/or view approximately 2.5
million pictures within the expected useful life of the card. This number is so
far beyond the average number of photos taken by the typical user that the difference
in endurance between MLC NAND and SLC NAND is not a significant factor for this
application. For a more general application such as a USB drive, the 10,000 write/erase
cycles would enable the user to completely write and erase the entire contents
once per day for 27 years, well beyond the life of the hardware
Applications for MLC NAND and SLC NAND
MLC NAND Flash provides a very competitive
level of performance and makes high-density NAND cards more affordable, enabling
new applications that have resulted in growing popularity among consumers. While
SLC NAND Flash is more appropriate for some specific, high-performance applications,
this difference in performance will not affect the many common consumer applications,
including most digital camera users.
applications that are well suited for MLC NAND include digital video and digital
still camera memory cards, USB Flash Drives, MP3 players, automobile diagnostics,
GPS devices, animatronics, video game cards and toy applications. Applications
that may be suited for either MLC NAND or SLC NAND technology include memory cards
for printers (fonts), cell phones, telecom applications, voice mail and set-top
boxes. SLC NAND Flash is better suited for applications that require speed, and
perform many write/erase cycles that require high endurance and high reliability,
such as solid state hard disk drives, seismic data recording, networking, HDTV,
bar code scanners, ruggedized PCs, flight recorders, and handheld code storage
devices as well as embedded NAND in personal digital assistants (PDAs) and digital
still cameras. (See Fig. 1. SLC/MLC Applications).
Combining quality and flexibility with design engineering expertise,
TAEC brings a breadth of advanced, next-generation technologies to its customers.
This broad offering includes semiconductors, flash memory-based storage solutions,
and displays for the computing, wireless, networking, automotive and digital consumer
is an independent operating company owned by Toshiba America, Inc., a subsidiary
of Toshiba, one of the five largest semiconductor companies worldwide in terms
of global sales for the year 2003 according to Gartner/Dataquest's Worldwide Semiconductor
Market Share Ranking. Toshiba is a world leader in high-technology products with
more than 300 major subsidiaries and affiliates worldwide. For additional company
and product information, please visit TAEC's website at chips.toshiba.com. For
technical inquiries, please e-mail Tech.Questions@taec.toshiba.com.
Information in this press release, including product pricing and specifications, content of
services and contact information, is current on the date of the announcement,
but is subject to change without prior notice. Technical and application information
contained here is subject to the most recent applicable Toshiba product specifications.
In developing designs, please ensure that Toshiba products are used within specified
operating ranges as set forth in the most recent Toshiba product specifications
and the information set forth in Toshiba's "Handling Guide for Semiconductor Devices,"
or "Toshiba Semiconductor Reliability Handbook." This information is available
at www.chips.toshiba.com, or from your
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1. SLC/MLC Applications