Toshiba’s SSD division is swimming with da fishes

CES 2011: No, seriously.

File this one in the WTF folder.  Toshiba managed to pique our interest with an ingenious, yet slightly crazy/useless display gimmick.  An SSD board was mounted inside of a fish bowl, mostly submerged in ordinary water (made slightly alcoholic once everyone’s back was turned,) and was booted from on a computer next to the tank.  Utterly useless? Yes. Attention getting?  Yes.  Can you do this at home?  Yes (just don’t send us the repair bill.)

When quizzed about the oddity beside him, the question weary Toshiba rep explained that the drive was just an ordinary SSD, clear coated in a water proof lacquer, and dropped off at the pool.  Notice that the electrical connections are safely above water, which makes the whole ridiculous setup a bit questionable. Whether Toshiba was trying to foreshadow scuba approved SSDs in the future, or whether it was just the byproduct of some marketing Kool-Aid hallucination is unclear but either way it’s always nice to see electronics and water playing together nicely.

Moving on, Toshiba had one of their 24nm NAND wafers on display for all the world to see (and probably as a shiny metaphor for a middle finger to Intel/Micron.)  We were told it was “probably” comprised of 8Gb chips but no absolute confirmation of that could be beaten out of the Toshiba representatives in such a public venue.

24nm NAND is currently shipping in lower end flash memory products such as SD cards, and USB flash drives; basically any device that does not need to meet guaranteed write cycle figures.  We were told that when a new flash memory process is rolled out it generally takes between 6 and 9 months before the node is mature enough to be used in an SSD environment that demands write cycle longevity.  This means that that drives based on Toshiba flash memory are silently slated to get quite a bit cheaper as the transition from 32nm flash to 24nm begins in 2H this year.  Meanwhile, keep in mind that companies are already shipping SSDs using IM’s 25nm process today.

One final morsel of SSD information goodness is that like Samsung, Toshiba is also 100% vertically integrated when it comes to SSDs, meaning that they produce every chip in the device.  There isn’t much to read into this fact at this point other than the appearance a trend among flash makers to have your own controller and leverage complete authority over the hardware and firmware to differentiate your drives from the unwashed SandForce masses. S|A

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