Samsung chip could bring 128GB storage to cheaper phones

The flash storage module is aimed at mass market devices

Samsung Electronics has developed flash memory storage that could help bring 128GB capacity to smartphones and tablets in the middle and low end of the price spectrum.

The new 3-bit NAND-based Embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC) 5.0 storage is the industry's highest-density architecture of its kind and will put larger storage capacities into mass market mobile devices, the company said Thursday.

The development adds to the allure of budget smartphones, which have recently improved in features and capabilities to such an extent that they may make it hard to decide whether buying higher-end models is worthwhile.

The most expensive versions of smartphones and tablets such as the iPhone 6 or iPad Air have 128GB storage, and are currently available for about US$200 more than the 16GB editions. Samsung would not say how much the 128GB eMMC 5.0 would cost and how that might affect device pricing.

The eMMC storage is already found in less expensive mobile devices. The new Samsung technology has some nifty features such as 260 megabytes per second of sequential data reading and it can support HD video processing. The storage is already in mass production and available to device manufacturers, Samsung said.

An embedded non-volatile memory system, eMMC consists of integrated flash memory and a flash memory controller. It's designed for use in phones, tablets, car navigation systems and other devices.

"We expect to see that mid-to-low-end smartphones will increasingly adopt 128GB of memory storage in the near future," a Samsung spokesman said via email.

The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association recently approved eMMC version 5.1, which will allow flash drives to handle 4K streaming and other data-intensive tasks.

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.

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