MI­CRO SIZE, MA

USB FLASH DRIVES ARE BE­COM­ING SMALLER AND SMALLER IN FORM, BUT THEY ARE ALSO BE­COM­ING AMAZ­INGLY LARGER AT HEART.

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - COMPUTING - BY NANDAGOPAL RAJAN

Adecade ago, while strug­gling with floppy drives that never seemed to have enough mem­ory to store files, we would never have fore­seen a time when a de­vice smaller than a thumb could hold over 10,000 songs or a hun­dred hi-def movies. But then none of us are good at pre­dict­ing the twists and turns tech­nol­ogy takes.

USB drives have al­ways been small, but now they are be­com­ing even smaller. But that doesn’t mean they are be­com­ing costlier or have lesser stor­age than ear­lier. In fact, things are mov­ing in ex­actly the op­po­site di­rec­tion. The lat­est USB flash drives might be small, but they now have more stor­age ca­pac­ity than ever be­fore and are more af­ford­able.

Stron­tium Tech­nol­ogy, one of the largest man­u­fac­tur­ers of flash drives, says ear­lier the de­vices were larger as the con­troller and flash used to be sol­dered sep­a­rately. Now, a sin­gle piece, called the COB, has both the con­troller and flash mem­ory chip built in, thus dras­ti­cally re­duc­ing the sizes and prices.

So, while a 2GB USB drive would have cost you 500 a cou­ple of years ago, now

` you will get a 16GB drive for the same out­lay. A top-draw 64GB drive could cost you un­der 5,000. An­other fac­tor be

` hind the re­duced prices of USB flash drives is the fall in flash wafer costs due to tech­nol­ogy ad­vance­ments.

But USB flash drives tend to be slow as most cheaper ones run on low per­for­mance NAND flash with just a cou­ple of chan­nels. This is why it 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 high per­for­mance mul­ti­ple-chan­nel NAND. These drives also have bet­ter mem­ory con­trollers and most of them now fea­ture the lat­est USB 3.0.

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