Flash's 25th birthday

Toshiba is rightly celebrating the 25th anniversary of NAND flash. We should join them.

NAND flash is one of the few fundamental innovations in data storage of the last 50 years. It has revolutionized large scale data storage in the last 5 years after enabling a new class of power-sipping mobile devices in the last 20 years.

Toshiba invented NAND flash and - and this is the important part - patiently supported it through investment and careful marketing for 2 decades until it became cheaper than DRAM and reached critical mass for massive adoption.

How many of today's industrial companies make similar long-term investments?

The future Even more important is that fact that Toshiba continues to push forward with major investments in both the underlying technologies and the applications of flash. Toshiba recently received a patent for a resistance RAM (ReRAM) device that many observers - like me - believe will ultimately replace much DRAM and NAND flash.

Toshiba's partner SanDisk is also working on ReRAM as well. On the applications side Toshiba is a major investor in Violin Memory, whose clean-sheet flash array architecture (video) is one of the most innovative in the industry.

The Storage Bits take Our underlying storage technologies are still at the Model T Ford stage relative to our digital civilization's need for cheap, fast and reliable storage. While it's good to look back - and I often do - the greater need is to look forward.

While Toshiba is taking a well-deserved victory lap for their invention and support of NAND flash - kudos to Toshiba's management for perseverance - their continued research to replace one of their own greatest inventions is even more important.

Comments welcome, of course. I may be too sentimental about Toshiba's anniversary since my daughter turns 25 today - happy birthday, Bryn! - and I've been working with Violin on several projects, including the production of the video mentioned above.