Toshiba Semiconductor Company's President Shozo Saito took the platform at the seminar hosted by IDEMA Japan and delivered a speech on future prospects of NAND flash memory and SSD (solid state drives) April 18, 2008. In the lecture, he forecast that 25% of all notebook PCs will be equipped with an SSD in 2011.

Toshiba's flash memory business basically aims at enhancing production capacity and reducing costs through miniaturization and maltivaluing. Expecting the NAND flash memory market to rapidly expand 133% every year on average from 2006 through 2010, Toshiba plans to fortify its production capacity even faster than that, it said.

Regarding the miniaturization, Toshiba started 43nm process volume production in March 2008, planning to establish 30nm-generation volume production at the end of 2009.

As for multivaluing, Toshiba began volume production of a 3-bit-per-cell product in March 2008 and is currently attempting to establish 4-bit-per-cell technology. Through these technical developments, Toshiba will lower manufacturing cost for NAND flash memory on a capacity basis by 40 to 50% every year on average, it said.

Toshiba cited notebook PCs as the most likely market where demand for NAND flash memory will strengthen. The global market for SSD for notebook PCs will expand 313% every year from 2008 to 2011, the company said.

Toshiba is planning to extend its SSD lineup, which currently ranges from 32 to 128 Gbytes, up to 512 Gbytes in the future. Saito is considering the compartmentalization of SSDs for 512 Gbytes or less and HDDs for more in the market for memories used in notebook PCs. He also predicted products with built-in SSD to account for 10% of all notebook PCs in 2010 and 25% in 2011.

The maximum number of rewrites allowed for MLC (multi level cell) SSD products, about 10,000, is generally cited as the key challenge that the SSD is facing for greater use in PCs. In respect to this, Saito indicated a calculation result that "If data is efficiently concentrated and stored in caches in an effort to reduce the frequency of rewrites, rewrites on SSDs can be reduced to a number far below 10,000 times in five years, even for heavy PC users."

Saito also stated SSD's pricing disadvantage compared with HDDs can also be gradually reduced. According to Toshiba's estimates, unit price of NAND flash memory per 1 Gbyte is currently 2.9 and 6.4 times that of 1.8- and 2.5-inch HDD, respectively.

If the NAND price is lowered 50% every year from now on, however, the price gaps will be shrunk to 1.4 and 3.2 times the price of 1.8- and 2.5-inch HDD, respectively, he said.

Correction Notice: We removed the second figure because we published it without gaining permission from either the organizers or speaker of the event.