Samsung Electronics started mass-manufacturing 512GB mobile flash memory chips, the South Korean tech giant said Tuesday, describing its latest offering as a storage solution for “next-generation” smartphones and tablets. The company unsurprisingly didn’t name any specific models but its upcoming Galaxy S9 Android flagships are prime candidates for showcasing such a storage solution, especially since their top models aren’t likely to be in high demand compared to the base versions, i.e. the fact that mass production of the chips only started in December shouldn’t prevent Samsung from delivering a limited quantity of handsets with 512GB of internal flash memory come late winter.
The company’s new embedded Universal Flash Storage (eUFS) storage solution comes in the form of 64-layer V-NAND chips with peak read speeds of 860MB/s and maximum write speeds amounting to 255MB/s, a notable improvement over its 256GB 48-layer chips. In terms of input/output operations per second, the offering has a 42,000 read IOPS and a 40,000 write one, Samsung said. Besides smartphones, the South Korean original equipment manufacturer also plans to implement its new chips into memory cards and solid-state drives (SSDs), although the mobile segment is a priority for the company, at least as far as first-party products are concerned. The chips will be made available to third-party manufacturers and Samsung expects automakers to start using them in the near future as various IoT and self-driving technologies become more integrated into contemporary vehicles. The production of the old 48-layer V-NAND chips will ramp up simultaneously with the new offerings as the Seoul-based chaebol expects increased demand for both in the near term, the firm said.
While the new 512GB chips are likely to be commercialized in the first half of the next year, they are expected to remain exclusive to the ultra-premium segment of the smartphone market for the foreseeable future, especially since even high-end flagships only recently transitioned to 64GB of native storage space as a starting point, with Apple being the last major OEM to make that jump with the iPhone 8 series which launched this fall. Should Samsung end up circumventing its own premium storage chips with the Galaxy S9 series, the company will likely commercialize the 512GB offerings with the Galaxy Note 9.