Double data density: Intel, Micron develop 128-gigabit flash chip

the new storage chip is smaller than a finger tip.

A terabit of data storage in a fingertip-size package: Intel and Micron say their new 128-gigabit NAND flash chip provides twice the storage capacity and performance of their previous 64Gb device, “providing customers with a more cost-effective solid-state storage solution for today’s slim, sleek product designs.”

the new storage chip is smaller than a finger tip.

Smaller than a fingertip, the multilevel-cell chip was created through a 20 nanometer manufacturing process, with a planar structure that allows memory cells to scale much smaller than before, and stacking as many as eight chips on top of each other. It is capable of 333 megatransfers per second,

High-definition video is one example of an application that requires high-capacity storage, the companies say, since attempting to stream this type of data can create a poor user experience.

It was developed through Intel and Micron’s joint-development venture, IM Flash Technologies, and mass production is set for the first half of 2012.

More information is here.

CompactFlash guarantees video performance; new XQD format

CFA logo

The CompactFlash Association released its first Video Performance Guarantee profile specification for CompactFlash cards.

The VPG Profile 1 specification enables guaranteed sustained capture of video streams at up to 20MB/sec. for professional video capture.

VPG Profiles are a new kind of video stream specification that goes beyond command definitions and simple speed requirements, the association says. “VPG profiles specify the characteristics of a video stream to ensure compliant cameras and CF cards work together to meet the sophisticated requirements of professional video capture.” This includes guaranteed video capture over multiple capture files without dropping frames, enabling high quality 1080p capture at high frame rates with either under and over cranking functionality.

CompactFlash cards are currently available up to 128GB with sustained data rates over 100MB/sec. and provide the dominant flash storage solution for the new multi-mega pixel DSLR cameras and professional video cameras, the CFA claims.

The new VPG Profile specification is available for immediate download from the CompactFlash Association website here.

The CFA also announce the XQD specification, billed as a new high-performance memory card, based on the PCI Express specification. “The XQD format will enable further evolution of hardware and imaging applications, and widen the memory card options available to CompactFlash users such as professional photographers,” the association says.

The XQD format measures 38.5 by 29.8 by 3.8mm. It supports write speeds of 2.5Gbps today and 5Gbps in the future.

Apple to allow Flash development on iOS

Flash-encoded video still won’t play on an iPhone — but Apple has changed its App Store rules to allow programs that were developed with Adobe’s Flash-based tools.

This means the iPhone and Apple’s other iOS devices [the Touch and the iPad] still won’t run Flash apps or videos — but developers making those programs can now port them to Apple’s mobile platform with Adobe’s cross-compiler, instead of re-coding from scratch.

In its statement, Apple said it has “listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart. Based on their input, today we are making some important changes to our iOS Developer Program license …to relax some restrictions we put in place earlier this year. In particular, we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.”

Apple maintains that allowing Flash to run on its portable devices would result in power drain and overall system instability — and so Apple keeps Flash-operating software off its App Store. Apple claims its App Store has more than 250,000 apps and served 6.5 billion downloads, making it “the world’s largest mobile application platform.”

Apple’s announcement easing restrictions on the use of third-party tools for app development had one immediate result: Adobe’s stock price reportedly rose in response.

Steve Jobs to Adobe: We’re leaving you behind

Steve Jobs, Apple CEO
Steve Jobs, Apple CEO

Steve Jobs, Apple CEO

In a posting reminiscent of the 2007 “Thoughts on Music” post, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs succinctly laid out the company’s case against using Adobe Flash on mobile devices. Apple has faced criticism for not supporting Flash, in favor of HTML5, first in the iPhone and now the iPad. Adobe contends most web video is in Flash format, so Apple is thumbing its nose at users by imposing an unpopular and inconvenient standard.

Here are some highlights from Jobs’ post, entitled “Thoughts on Flash”:

“I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe’s Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven – they say we want to protect our App Store – but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true. Let me explain.

“Adobe’s Flash products are 100 percent proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.”

Jobs acknowledged Apple is also a fan of proprietary technologies too — including the iPhone, iPod and iPod — but stated the company favors open internet standards: “Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards.”

Another aspect mentioned by Jobs was reliability and security, blaming Flash for crashes on the Mac platform: “We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.”

Additionally, Jobs said Flash isn’t suited to mobile devices, lacking a smartphone-specific version, as well as consuming too much battery life. Also, since newer smartphones have touch-based interfaces, he said Flash is lagging in that category.

“Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short,” wrote Jobs. “New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”

The 2007 “Thoughts on Music” post outlined Jobs’ thoughts on why digital rights management (DRM) was inhibiting the growth of digital music sales. Soon after, the Apple iTunes store began selling music without DRM.

SanDisk doubles flash memory capacity

Milpitas, Calif.-based SanDisk Corp. says new 64-gigabit NAND flash chip “is the highest-density single-die memory device in the world to enter production.”

The X4 flash memory technology took five years of development, the company says. Based on 43-nanometer process technology, X4 holds four bits of data in each memory cell, twice as many as conventional memory chips.

SanDisk is shipping 8 gigabyte and 16GB SDHC cards as well as 8GB and 16GB Memory Stick PRO Duo cards using X4 technology.

Supercapacitors brighten phone flashes

Supercapacitor developer CAP-XX Limited of Sydney, Australia claims its solutiondelivers the best flash photography on a camera phone.

It published a study comparing flash solutions for camera phones – xenon, standard LEDs powered by a battery, and high-current LEDs powered by a supercapacitor [the company's BriteFlash power architecture].

CAP-XX says it developed BriteFlash to give designers a thin-form LED flash solution that rivals bulkier xenon. The power architecture combines a LED flash driver, supercapacitor, battery and WLEDs. The flash driver’s boost converter charges the supercapacitor to 5.5V, which then delivers high-peak current to drive the LED flash. The battery only supplies average power, and recharges the supercapacitor between flashes.

The study tested each solution’s ability to deliver the light energy needed to take digital-still-camera-quality pictures in low-light conditions.

The original report from October 2006 compared light power and energy using 1.3 to 3.2-megapixel camera phones. The new report includes data from 5-megapixel camera phones released in the last year. It also takes into account advancements in camera sensors, xenon flash units, high-power white LEDs and LED flash drivers.

Tests again showed that the LED BriteFlash approach delivers more light energy than most xenon flashes in a thin form factor suitable for slim camera phones and digital cameras.

Clear pictures in dim environments require sufficient light energy – the total amount of light received by each pixel in the camera sensor – during image-capture time, the company says. “People often wrongly assume that light power, which is the brightness or intensity of the flash, is the key because it’s what draws our attention, but it’s really the light energy that counts.”

To calculate light energy, multiply light power (in lux) by the duration of the flash exposure (in seconds): Light power (lux) x flash exposure time (sec) = light energy (lux.sec). Ten to fifteen lux.sec of light energy is ideal for high-resolution pictures:

Xenon flash tubes driven by electrolytic storage capacitors deliver higher light power, but over a very short flash exposure.

High-current LEDs driven by a supercapacitor deliver lower light power, but over a longer flash exposure to generate more light energy.

Among the study results:

The supercapacitor-powered BriteFlash example (two-LED array powered at 2A per LED), using a 15-frame-per-second rolling shutter over a 67-millisecond flash exposure, delivered more light energy than the xenon flashes.

From 1 meter, the BriteFlash LEDs delivered the best of all cases with 21.7 lux.sec, 37 percent more than the best-performing xenon, which was the SonyEricsson K800 with 15.8 lux.sec. The standard battery-powered LED flash unit in the Nokia N73 delivered only 1.71 lux.sec with 1 LED, and 3.45 lux.sec in the Nokia N96 with 2 LEDs.

More info and photos are here.