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Dennis Hissink : February 28th 2004 - 07:16 CET

SanDisk introduces T-Flash flash for mobile phone

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SanDiskSanDisk is the world's largest supplier of flash memory data storage products. Yesterday SanDisk introduced SanDisk T-Flash, the world’s smallest removable flash memory storage format. It is similar in size and function to embedded flash memory but can also be readily removed and upgraded to allow for a range of memory capacities as well as interoperability with other consumer electronics devices. Approximately the size of a fingernail, T-Flash is designed for new mobile phones that are compact yet fully-featured with storage-intensive multimedia applications such as digital cameras, video capture and playback, MP3 players, video games, personal organizers, Multimedia Message Service (MMS), email and voicemail capabilities.
SanDisk introduces T-Flash flash for mobile phoneThe exceptionally small size of T-Flash (11mm x 15mm x1mm) represents approximately one quarter of the volume of the smallest removable flash cards available on the market today and allows handset manufacturers to incorporate significant amounts of removable storage capacity into their progressively smaller handsets without changing the physical size of the phone. To realize the small form factor, T-Flash uses advanced packaging technology and SanDisk’s latest NAND MLC flash memory and controller technologies. This technology is employed in SanDisk’s miniSD and TriFlash products and is a proven low cost/high volume production technology.

Unique Characteristics And Usage Model
T-Flash represents a new type of flash memory for mobile phones that combines the space-saving benefit of embedded flash memory with the flexibility of removable flash storage cards. Given the extremely small size of the T-Flash module, handset manufacturers have greater flexibility to implement T-Flash into their new designs. A range of T-Flash connectors are available that support external slots as well as ?under-the-battery’ placement. The T-Flash module is likely to be used as a semi-permanent storage device in the handset, and is ideal to transport subscriber data and settings from an older T-flash enabled phone to a new one. T-Flash has built- in content protection rights management to allow secure downloads of content such as songs, video clips and video games. Future versions of T-Flash are being developed which will offer advanced encryption security to permit protected storage of personal, financial and medical information.

Benefits to Consumers
T-Flash is designed to store personal content such as digital images, MP3 music files, video games and other applications, phone settings and personal data. Due to its very small size and substantial storage capacity, it is likely to remain in the handset for extended periods; however, it can easily be removed and inserted into another phone when consumers want to upgrade their phones.

This usage model is similar to the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards used in most mobile phones worldwide that can be transported by the subscriber from one handset to another. However, SIM cards have very limited flash memory storage and suffer from a very slow data transfer rate that is not suitable for tens or hundreds of megabytes stored. T-Flash has approximately half the footprint of SIM cards.

When inserted into an available SD adapter, T-Flash converts into the SD card for interoperability with standard SD devices so consumers can exchange data between their T-Flash-equipped mobile phone and any SD compatible host, such as a digital camera, PDA or laptop PC.

Small Size Offers Design Advantages to Cell Phone Manufacturers
The tiny size of T-Flash gives handset manufacturers greater freedom to fit removable mass storage into virtually any mobile phone regardless of size. The ability to configure a basic handset for different amounts of T-Flash memory just before shipments to different customers is another desirable flexibility offered by T-Flash that is not possible with embedded flash memory. The same configurability can also be accomplished at the store where the T-Flash equipped handsets are sold. For example, a customer purchasing a cell phone with a two megapixel camera may want to configure his handset with higher capacity T-Flash than a cell phone that has a lower resolution camera.

Due to its ability to store operating system code and system data, T-Flash offers mobile phone manufacturers and network operators the flexibility to offer customized memory configurations, additional software and applications upgrades. In addition, service providers can create custom carrier bundles that are tightly integrated with handsets and stored on T-Flash so they can be easily replaced or upgraded in the field.

For mobile phones with storage requirements that assume frequent card removal and data sharing between other consumer electronic devices, SanDisk offers its regular SD and miniSD as well as Memory Stick PRO Duo cards and MultiMediaCards. T-Flash works seamlessly with any standard flash card implemented in the same handset.

Pricing and Availability
SanDisk has started sampling T-Flash to OEM customers. Volume production is expected to commence in the second quarter. Pricing ranges from $14 to $39 for capacities that range from 32MB to 128MB.

Availability of T-Flash at retail outlets is expected later in the year in support of the rollouts of these new handsets in various geographies.

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