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A View from Brad King

NAND Flash Memory Production May Impede Developers

Flash memory, in particular for mobile devices, is in high demand. Rapid production may outstrip chip compatibility.

  • July 14, 2006

Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the tipping point, which Wikipedia defines roughly as the place in time when the cutting edge reaches the mainstream in sufficient numbers to become commonplace.

Flash memory, long the preference for the digi-centric lifestyle, has now reached sufficient enough popularity that it’s common for even computer novices to inquire about it at the local Best Buy or Circuit City. (In truth, I realized this when I went computer shopping with my sister this week and mentioned flash memory to my father. They both acted as if I’d tried to explain why it’s important to breathe.)

With flash memory on my mind, these two stories caught my attention when they hit the wires today: this one about a new $3 billion flash memory production plant being built by SanDisk and Toshiba and this one about developers concerned that over-production of NAND flash memory (which some believe is more prone to bugs) could outdistance its reliability with current chipsets.

With mobile computing skyrocketing among the masses, providers of all sorts are trying to push the limits of these small devices. That means increasing the memory and computing power in quick fashion. Early adopters, by definition, will put up with buggy interfaces and less-than-stellar performance because new products are oftentimes powerful enough that with a little knowledge, the high-end user can circumvent technical issues.

We’re quickly leaving that time, though, and mobile companies – particularly the hardware makers – need to be careful that they don’t rush to keep up with consumer buying demands while delivering the same type of buggy (and now, far more complicated) interfaces and performance.

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