USB flash drives moving toward greater capacity

USB flash drives moving toward greater capacity

USB flash drives are becoming smaller and smaller in form, but they are also becoming amazingly larger at heart.

A decade ago, while struggling with floppy drives that neverseemed to have enough memory to store files, we would never have foreseen atime when a device smaller than a thumb could hold over 10,000 songs or ahundred hi-def movies. But then none of us are good at predicting the twistsand turns technology takes. USB drives have always been small, but now they arebecoming even smaller. But that doesn't mean they are becoming costlier or havelesser storage than earlier. In fact, things are moving in exactly the oppositedirection. The latest USB flash drives might be small, but they now have morestorage capacity than ever before and are more affordable.

Strontium Technology, one of the largest manufacturers offlash drives, says earlier the devices were larger as the controller and flashused to be soldered separately. Now, a single piece, called the COB, has boththe controller and flash memory chip built in, thus drastically reducing thesizes and prices. So, while a 2GB USB drive would have cost you Rs 500 a coupleof years ago, now you will get a 16GB drive for the same outlay. A top-draw64GB drive could cost you under Rs 5,000. Another factor behind the reducedprices of USB flash drives is the fall in flash wafer costs due to technologyadvancements.

But USB flash drives tend to be slow as most cheaper onesrun on low performance NAND flash with just a couple of channels. This is whyit takes ages to copy a large file to a flash drive. Most new USB drives,especially the ones with capacities of 32GB or more, use SSD with highperformance multiple-channel NAND . These drives also have better memorycontrollers and most of them now feature the latest USB 3.0.

At CES 2012, Victorinox showcased its SSD and Slim 3.0 USBdrives with storage capacities between 64GB and 1TB. The company claims theirthumb drive-sized SSD is the smallest high-storage SSD around and the first toinclude a connector for both USB and eSATA. Last year, Transcend touted asimilar sized USB 3.0 flash drive with 2 TB storage. While the storagecapacities of the USB drives keep increasing, the push for the smallest sizeseems to have hit a dead end since Dutch manufacturer Deonet came out with the"smallest USB-stick in the world". Based on revolutionary Micro UDP-chipmemory, it is half the size of a classic USB-memory chip: 19.5 x 14.5 mm with a2.9-mm thickness. Despite its size, it can store between 4 and 16 GB of data.No wonder, no one has made a USB drive smaller than this.

Courtesy: Gadgets and Gizmos