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World's First NAND Flash Memory

The NAND flash memory created by Toshiba achieved a position as Japan's first global memory standard.
Toshiba to use its own technologies to increase the capacity of NAND flash memory, receiving the Ichimura Industrial Award.

World's First NAND Flash Memory

Key requirements of storage devices for digital data include: (1) high reading/writing speeds, (2) nonvolatility, (3) low energy consumption, and (4) low cost. In the past, magnetic media such as hard disks and floppy disks were used. Meanwhile, DRAM memory, which is superior in terms of high-speed processing and is used as the main memory in personal computers and other devices, was not suitable for use as an external storage medium due to the fact that it would lose stored data when its power was turned off (volatility). In addition, existing nonvolatile memory was still inadequate in terms of cost and capacity.

In 1989, Toshiba invented NAND flash memory, which surpassed previous types of nonvolatile memory in terms of both capacity and low cost. Toshiba was first in the world to put this memory to practical use as a semiconductor-based memory optimal for filing applications, by applying to it a serial interface compatible with that used for hard drives. Following its announcement at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in 1989, Toshiba developed file-storage applications for its NAND flash memory, succeeding in establishing its position as the de facto standard in the industry - Japan's first global standard in the memory field. As a core technology of digital homeelectronics products, used as memory in digital still cameras and digital audio players, this NAND flash memory has made major contributions to revitalizing Japanese industry. In April 2000, it received the New Technology Development Foundation's Ichimura Industrial Award - the first time in 28 years Toshiba had received the award.

In 1991, Toshiba announced new specifications for achieving a system completely different from existing memory protocols. It also announced a strategic partnership with IBM of the US for the development of solid-state disks to replace hard disks, and began development of 16-megabit products. The following year, it announced commercialization of its 16-megabit NAND flash-memory products, proceeding simultaneously with mass production at Iwate Toshiba Electronics Co., Ltd. and with market-development efforts. In this way, NAND flash memory became a fully-fledged new business for the company.

In 1995, the company resolved various issues that had made both technological development and mass production difficult, added 32-megabit products to its lineup, and began joint development efforts with Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. of South Korea. In 1996, it proposed small flash-memory cards it named SmartMedia™, with 16-megabit and 32-megabit products built-in. That same year, a forum established with Fujifilm, Olympus, Sega, and other partners marked the start of the digital-camera industry. This was followed by severe competition between digital cameras using SmartMedia™ and those using the Compact Flash standard proposed by SanDisk of the United States. Development of NAND flash memory has proceeded at a fast pace, with storage capacity doubling every year. This technology has also contributed to creating a market for digital audio players.

In these ways, the NAND flash memory created by Toshiba has achieved a position as Japan's first global memory standard. As Toshiba has used its own technologies to increase the capacity of NAND flash memory, it has created new markets and a highly profitable business.

Enlarged view of NAND flash memory

Enlarged view of NAND flash memory

The present day Iwate Toshiba Electronics

The present day Iwate Toshiba Electronics

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