M-Systems Unveils Mobile DiskOnChip, the World’s Smallest, Most Cost-Effective 16MB Flash Disk

M-Systems Unveils Mobile DiskOnChip, the World’s Smallest, Most Cost-Effective 16MB Flash Disk


M-Systems, a leader in flash data storage products, today unveiled the world’s smallest 16MB single-chip flash disk, Mobile DiskOnChip. Less than half the size of competing flash products and delivering 10 times the performance, Mobile DiskOnChip brings to the handset high-performance and cost-effective storage architecture. This revolutionary architecture enables mobile applications by delivering an unprecedented level of user experience for applications ranging from simple contact management to rich multimedia.

A major player in the mobile market has already chosen Mobile DiskOnChip as the local data storage media for its high-end product, and mass production orders for Mobile DiskOnChip have already been received.

“Mobile DiskOnChip is a revolutionary flash disk that brings the best of M-Systems’ DiskOnChip technology optimized for the mobile architecture,” said Dov Moran, president and CEO, M-Systems. “The development process required enormous effort in the areas of hardware, software, silicon, packaging and integration in order to fully satisfy all the requirements of this specific customer and other potential customers.”

Enabling Mobile Applications

The evolution of mobile handsets places stronger demands on performance and storage capacity than ever before. Mobile DiskOnChip, the first product from M-Systems designed specifically for the mobile market, was developed to support this evolution by providing users with the performance to deliver fast response time when storing heavy multimedia and business information.

Mobile DiskOnChip’s write performance is 10 times faster than storage solutions generally available to mobile handset manufacturers. This enables advanced applications to write data faster than previous solutions to enhance the overall user experience. The user can gain quick access to a growing number of emails and attachments and, in just a few seconds, download 5MB of MP3 audio for 5 minutes of music. Mobile DiskOnChip is also fast enough to serve as a cache for server-based applications such as unified messaging and high-resolution video streaming. Caching MPEG4 video clips into Mobile DiskOnChip enables larger, higher resolution clips to be viewed in the time it ordinarily takes to view lower resolution clips.

Analysts’ forecasts place Mobile DiskOnChip in the right place at the right time.

“As the trend to integrate advanced features such as video streaming into high-end handsets increases, a compact and reliable storage device needed to support such applications will play a pivotal role. We forecast unit volumes for handsets produced will be approximately 947 million by 2005. The mid- to high-end segments will continue to grow as illustrated by markets in Europe and the Far East,” said Allen Nogee, senior analyst of the wireless technology group at Cahner’s In-Stat.

“The growth potential in the high-end mobile market is considerable compared to the potential of simple voice phones. Today’s high-end market is ready for what Mobile DiskOnChip is offering, namely, higher levels of speed and capacity that constitute the ultimate storage solution for high-end mobile phones. We expect it will benefit even more users as the need for both speed and high capacity grows over the next few years,” said Alan Niebel, managing director, Web-Feet Research. “This need will be driven both by user demand for more robust mobile applications as well as by expanding network capabilities.”

Optimized for the Mobile Handset

Mobile DiskOnChip is optimized for mobile handsets in four major areas: low power consumption, minimal form factor, maintenance of data integrity during power failure and maintenance of a reliable storage throughout the life of the handset.

Its I/O voltage was reduced to 1.8V to reduce power consumption, extending intervals between battery recharging and freeing up power for features such as color screens.

Mobile DiskOnChip was packed into a miniature 9 x 11 x 1.4 mm ball grid array (BGA) package to reduce its real-estate requirements.

As more data is stored locally on mobile handsets, data integrity becomes crucial. Mobile DiskOnChip is virtually immune to data loss in case of power failure, which may result from battery drain or unplanned battery removal.

Mobile DiskOnChip provides fully accurate data storage throughout the lifetime of the handset. It achieves this by combining industry-standard Reed-Solomon error detection and correction code and M-Systems’ patented TrueFFS® software. Users can rely on the accuracy of stored data.

Flash analyst Niebel continued to describe the debut of Mobile DiskOnChip as a “breakthrough,” and added, “The industry now has a flash disk whose 1.8V operating voltage and size enable all the accessories that designers have been waiting to put on high-end handsets and which users have been seeking.”

“High-end handsets using Mobile DiskOnChip have a clear cost advantage over handsets using typical NOR flash,” said Efrat Ramati, director of business development, Mobile DiskOnChip. “Mobile DiskOnChip, with its user-driven features, unique boot technology and inherently cheaper NAND flash, provides many more benefits than NOR-based solutions at a lower price.”

DiskOnChip Technology

Mobile DiskOnChip is based on M-Systems’ proven DiskOnChip technology, which has been designed into thousands of embedded systems marketed by major corporations throughout the world. Numerous awards have been received in recognition of this technology’s excellence. In December 1999, EE Product News named M-Systems’ DiskOnChip as one of its products of the year. It was selected as a “Technology Showcase Award Finalist” at Singapore’s Globaltronics 2000, and won the 2000 European Information Society Technologies Prize.

Like all M-Systems flash disk products, Mobile DiskOnChip fully emulates a hard disk, using M-Systems’ patented TrueFFS technology. It hides the flash file management from the operating system, which is accustomed to a standard file system. This causes read/write operations to be identical to a conventional hard disk, both from the perspective of standard and customized operating systems.

Mobile DiskOnChip’s TrueFFS driver supports leading mobile operating systems, enabling designers to quickly and easily integrate it into mobile handset designs. A software development kit (SDK) is available for fast integration into proprietary operating systems.

DiskOnChip has a built-in programmable boot block, which is designed to replace an on-board boot device. This can save additional real estate and cut costs related to the bill of materials and programming.