Sandisk shows off two SD cards, an embedded SSD, and a wafer

MWC 2014: Unbridled excitement in the non-volitale memory space

SanDisk - logoSandisk had two new announcements at MWC and two items that were not press-release worthy, and yes they were all were flash-based. There were two SD cards of note, one SSD, and a shiny wafer.

The first new bit is the iNAND Extreme embedded SSD, something SemiAccurate first showed you over three years ago. The iNAND is a phone and tablet oriented SATA SSD, effectively an SSD on a chip. Now upgraded to Extreme status at Sandisk, the new device is an e.MMC 5.0 compatible chip with up to 300/80MBps R/W speeds. Raw speeds for such devices tend to be limited by the interface so Sandisk focused elsewhere.

Sandisk iNAND latency demo

iNAND Extreme demo showing the latency reductions

These new devices aren’t actually faster in raw bandwidth, as you can see they lose to the unnamed competitor on that front. More important is latency, the place where Sandisk focused their effort. Dual controllers, dual channel memory bumps the capacity to 64GB but it also takes a massive chunk off average latencies. If you don’t understand why this is at least as important as bandwidth, you probably should play with something shiny rather than wasting your time reading.

Next up was something that is about as photogenic as a modern GPU release, a new high-capacity microSD card. Updates to their packaging techniques allowed Sandisk to stack 16 8GB flash die, that is 128GB for those of you not doing the math. Sandisk claims to be the first to hit this target and SemiAccurate hasn’t seen anything that contradicts that claim. If you want a massive UHS-1 microSD card, you know who to ask, just don’t expect it to look different.

Sandisk 19nm flash wafer

Rainbows shine heralding 19nm flash wafers

Rather than licensing a few dancing bronies for their booth, Sandisk had to make do with simple rainbows to show off their process tech. What you see above is a 19nm flash wafer from the Sandisk/Toshiba fab, but sadly no capacities were mentioned. We expect the dies to start out at around 8GB and go up to 16GB in the not so distant future. Yay progress.

Last up is another photogenic disaster that Sandisk calls the Ultra miniDrive, complete with annoying but otherwise pointless capitalization. Take an SD card, lop the top 2/3rds of it off, and put a flexible plastic pull-tab where the top of the card used to be. Why? Because the new Macs have an SD slot that leaves a bit of the card hanging out so if you leave your SDs in the slot, you could break it. Yes, Sandisk designed a card to protect barely self-aware but fashionable computerati from breaking bits off their shiny toys. I wonder if the package comes with a warning on how not to choke to death on the device while puzzling out how to insert it. Sigh, lawyers.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate