Tag Archives: Flash memory

Apple Freezes Use Of China's YMTC NAND Chips!

Apple Freezes Use Of China’s YMTC NAND Chips!

Apple just froze its original plan to use China’s YMTC NAND flash memory chips in their iPhones!

 

Apple Freezes Use Of China’s YMTC NAND Chips!

On Monday, October 17, 2022, Nikkei Asia (paywall) reported that Apple just froze its original plan to use NAND flash memory chips from Yangtze Memory Technologies Corporation (YMTC)!

Apple had originally planned to start using NAND flash memory chips manufactured by YMTC in iPhones manufactured for the Chinese market, eventually purchasing up to 40% of its chip requirements from the Chinese state-funded company.

Those plans had to be put on hold after the US government announced stricter technology export controls designed to block China’s access to advanced semiconductor technologies.

The United States added YMTC – China’s top memory chipmaker – and 30 other Chinese companies to its “Unverified List” of companies that its official are unable to inspect to ensure compliance with its export controls.

The United States also initiated a new 60-day deadline for entities under the “Unverified List” to allow for complete end-to-end inspections, or risk even tougher penalties if added to the infamous “Entity List“.

YMTC is also being investigated by the US Commerce Department over allegations it violated earlier United States export controls by selling chips to HUAWEI, which was blacklisted under the Trump Administration.

Read more : US Targets Chinese Military With New Chip Export Ban!

 

Apple Decision Stymies Earlier Preparations By YMTC

Apple’s decision to freeze its purchase of YMTC flash memory chips stymies earlier preparations by the Wuhan-based memory chipmaker to mitigate looming US export controls.

According to four employees who spoke to Financial Times, YMTC had been stockpiling foreign equipment for months after US lawmakers started urging the Biden Administration to punish it for helping the Chinese military and violating trade restrictions by supply HUAWEI with chips.

YMTC has also come under scrutiny over concerns that massive Chinese government subsidies allow it to sells its chips below market price, even at a loss, just to gain market share at the expense of other companies.

We’ve been doing everything possible beforehand to support existing production lines, such as stockpiling all kinds of equipment.
– Senior YMTC engineer

Read more : Did China Make 7nm Chips In Spite Of US Sanctions?!

All that preparation was for naught, because Apple’s decision to freeze its massive purchase of YMTC flash memory chips is only the tip of the iceberg.

Other companies will similarly be forced to freeze or cancel their purchase of YMTC chips unless YMTC acquiesces to comply with audit requirements by US officials – a step the Chinese chipmaker is (politically) incapable of taking.

YMTC is, after all, China’s largest memory chipmaker, and a national champion in the country’s drive to build a domestic chip industry. It received 220 billion yuan (over $30.5 billion) in funding from both the Hubei province, and a national fund.

After the Biden Administration announced new chip export restrictions, the top three US chip toolmakers – KLA Corporation, Lam Research and Applied Materials immediately stopped sales and services to YMTC.

Despite its earlier stockpiling efforts, one YMTC employee revealed that the company only had enough wafers and parts for equipment repairs to last a year, but that’s assuming it won’t need technical support from foreign companies.

 

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He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

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US Targets Chinese Military With New Chip Export Ban!

The US government just imposed sweeping chip and chipmaking export restrictions that target Chinese military capabilities!

 

US Targets Chinese Military With New Chip Export Ban!

On Friday, October 7, 2022, the US government announced new regulations on computer chips and chipmaking technologies designed to target Chinese military capabilities.

The stated goal of these new export restrictions is to “block the People’s Liberation Army and China’s domestic surveillance apparatus from gaining access to advanced computing capabilities that require the use of advanced semiconductors.

According to US officials, these rules target not only the sale and export of chips, but also the tools and software that might help the Chinese military in any way, including aiding the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Unlike earlier rules that target specific Chinese companies (like HUAWEI), the new rules have far greater reach, covering everything from chips made by AMD and NVIDIA, to complex and expensive hardware and software used to design and manufacture semiconductor chips.

These rules, some of which go into effect immediately, build on existing restrictions that were earlier applied to top chip toolmaking companies in the US, like KLA Corporation, Lam Research Corporation, and Applied Material Incorporated.

It’s not just advanced chips used for AI computing and national security or military applications that are being targeted.

The new rules are more generic, and forbid US companies from selling technologies to indigenous Chinese companies that will enable the production of:

  • DRAM chips at 18 nm or below,
  • NAND flash chips at 128 layers or above, and
  • logic chips at 14 nm or below.

Even foreign companies operating China are somewhat affected. US companies will need to obtain a license to export more advanced equipment to them.

But in a concession to South Korea, the US government will spare SK Hynix and Samsung from these measures. US companies will be able to continue supplying their production facilities in China.

Many of the rules aim to block foreign companies from selling advanced chips or chipmaking technologies and tools to China. However, the US government will need to “lean” on those countries to introduce similar measures.

Most advanced chips are manufactured in South Korea and Taiwan. If they continue to export to China, they will allow China to bypass US restrictions.

Read more : Biden To Hit China With More Chip Restrictions!

 

Chinese Government Criticised US Chip Export Ban

On Saturday, the Chinese government criticised the new US chip export ban, calling it a violation of International economic and trade rules that will “isolate and backfire” on the US.

Out of the need to maintain its sci-tech hegemony, the U.S. abuses export control measures to maliciously block and suppress Chinese companies.

It will not only damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, but also affect American companies’ interest.

– Mao Ning, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson

Despite Mao’s assertions that US actions will not stop China’s progress, the new wide-ranging chip and chipmaking export ban will undoubtedly be detrimental to the Chinese semiconductor industry, and set back its attempts at indigenous production by many years.

On the other hand, this export ban will spur China to redouble its efforts to develop its own chipmaking capabilities, and possibly “strike back” by restricting exports of rare earths to US companies.

Read more : Did China Make 7nm Chips In Spite Of US Sanctions?!

 

US Chip Export Rules Affecting Chinese Companies Summarised

Here is a summary of the new restrictions that take effect on Friday (October 7, 2022):

  • Tools that are capable of producing logic chips made using fin field-effect transistors (FinFET) are blocked from sale to China.
  • Tools capable of fabricating NAND flash storage chips with 128-layer technology or greater, and DRAM based on 18-nanometer half-pitch or less technology are blocked from sale to China.
  • Servicing and maintenance of restricted tools are also banned, which would prevent keeping advanced equipment in good enough shape to keep producing quality chips at high volume.
  • US citizens currently servicing or supporting tools on the restricted list must halt their activities by Wednesday, October 12.
  • Export of items that China can use to make its own chip manufacturing tools, such as a photolithography light source and other specialised components are also blocked from sale to China.

The US Commerce Department also enacted these additional measures on Friday:

  • 31 Chinese entities were added to the Unverified List, which consists of companies that the US government believes could divert technology that they purchase to restricted entities.
  • The Commerce Department expanded the scope of controls for the 28 Chinese firms already on the US Entity List, including presumptively denying any licenses because of the risk they will divert technology to the Chinese military.

Then two weeks later, these restrictions will take effect on Friday, October 21, 2022:

  • Using a new foreign direct product rule, the U.S. will block any chips that used in advanced computing and artificial intelligence applications.
  • The foreign direct product rule can block chips made by non-US companies — including Chinese chip designers — if they use American technology or software.
  • TSMC may be forced by this new rule to halt production on advanced AI or supercomputer chips designed by Chinese firms that are fabricated in Taiwan, unless it gets an exemption.
  • A new foreign direct product rule will apply to components and chips destined for supercomputers in China.

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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realme GT Neo 2 : Dynamic RAM Expansion Nonsense

realme fans are eagerly awaiting the launch of the GT Neo 2, but I can tell you right now – their Dynamic RAM Expansion technology is just marketing nonsense.

You may not agree with me, but hear me out…

 

realme Dynamic RAM Expansion : What Is It?

The realme Dynamic RAM Expansion technology is really just a fancy marketing term for good old virtual memory, which has been used in computers for decades.

Virtual memory is simple in concept – you reserve a portion of your hard disk drive or SSD, to use as computing memory. This virtual memory is much slower than actual RAM, but it’s basically “free”!

It’s now being introduced in smartphones as a way to give users additional memory for memory-intensive games or apps, using the internal flash storage (what many brands call “ROM”).

It’s a free feature for brands to add to their smartphones, so it is just a matter of time before virtual memory is part and parcel of all smartphones.

Read more : vivo Virtual RAM for V21, V21e, X60 : How Does It Work?

 

realme GT Neo 2 : Dynamic RAM Expansion Nonsense

Virtual memory is a critical feature in modern operating systems for computers, and will eventually be standard in mobile operating system soon.

However, the Dynamic RAM Expansion feature realme is going to introduce in their upcoming GT Neo 2 smartphone is really just marketing nonsense.

You may have seen realme advertise this ahead of their launch – LARGEST DYNAMIC RAM EXPANSION IN INDUSTRY, as if that’s something to be proud of.

Searching for high performance that offers a variety of features in line with the latest technology?

The #realmeGTNeo2 is featuring the Largest Dynamic RAM Expansion (DRE) that helps expand the existing RAM of the phone.

realme is boasting about giving us 7 GB of virtual memory, on top of the 12 GB of RAM that the GT Neo 2 comes with. That’s a whopping 19 GB of memory. Sounds fantastic, right?

The truth is – this is just marketing nonsense.

Virtual Memory Is Slow

You will never see computer brands boast about using virtual memory. That’s because virtual memory is really SLOW.

LPDDR4x memory is 17X faster at reads and 28X faster in writes, than even ultra-fast UFS 3.1 flash storage. And there is additional latency involved in using virtual memory.

So it is nonsense to associate virtual memory with “high performance”. Real RAM is high performance, virtual memory is not high performance.

Virtual Memory Eats Into Flash Memory Lifespan

Virtual memory is free for brands to implement, but costs the user in the form of flash memory lifespan.

Flash memory only have a limited number of writes, before their cells start failing. So using the internal flash memory as virtual memory eats into its lifespan.

I certainly hope realme is not going to force the use of their DRE feature, just to prove that the GT Neo 2 is really giving you 7 GB of virtual memory. That would be colossally stupid, like cheating in a benchmark

Read more : Realme On AnTuTu Cheating : A Bug? No Guidelines?

Virtual Memory Is Poor Man’s RAM

You will never see computer brands advertise that they offer the MOST VIRTUAL MEMORY IN THE INDUSTRY.

That’s because virtual RAM is a poor man’s RAM. You only use it because you CANNOT afford more RAM, not because it’s something AWESOME to use.

That’s why it is hilarious to see realme gloating about how much virtual memory the GT Neo 2 can provide. That’s basically signalling that the phone does not have enough memory, which isn’t even true!

If I were in charge of marketing, I would have gone with :

realme GT Neo 2 does NOT need VIRTUAL MEMORY, because you will never run out of memory with 12 GB of REAL MEMORY!

More RAM Than You Ever Need

realme should have focused on the fact that the GT Neo 2 comes with 12 GB of RAM, which is A LOT of memory for a smartphone. It is actually more memory than many laptops ship with today!

Most apps and games are designed to use 1-2 GB of RAM, with the ability to use an additional 1-2 GB of memory to cache assets.

It would be stupid to make a game that requires 8 GB or 12 GB of RAM, because it would limit how many people can actually play! That’s why AAA mobile games like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9 are designed to use less than 1.2 GB of RAM.

Generally, 6-8 GB of RAM is more than enough to run AAA mobile game titles without throttling their memory use.

With 12 GB of RAM, you can literally run multiple apps / games at the same time, without swapping assets.

Read more : Realme Caught Using iPhone To Demo narzo 30A Gaming?

 

Dynamic RAM Expansion : More Than Useless In realme GT Neo 2

It’s one thing to boast about 7 GB of virtual memory, if the realme GT Neo 2 only comes with 4 GB of RAM. It is nothing more than a marketing ploy for a smartphone with 12 GB of RAM.

In fact, I would consider the 7 GB Dynamic RAM Expansion feature to be MORE than useless in the realme GT Neo 2.

There is simply no real world use case for it, and enabling it will simply eat into the flash memory’s limited write cycles.

If realme wants to impress me when they launch the GT Neo 2, it would be to declare that there is an OFF switch for this useless feature.

And if you do purchase the realme GT Neo 2, take my advice – turn off Dynamic RAM Expansion.

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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1TB Samsung eUFS Chip For Smartphone Details Revealed!

In the first big flash storage news of 2019, Samsung announced that they have begun mass producing the 1TB Samsung eUFS chip for use in the next-generation mobile devices.

Here are the full details, including its performance specifications!

Updated @ 2019-01-31 : Added additional information, and a new picture.

Originally posted @ 2019-01-30

 

The 1TB Samsung eUFS Chip

The new 1TB Samsung eUFS chip is the world’s first embedded Universal Flash Storage 2.1 (eUFS 2.1) device to break the terabyte threshold. It is powered by their fifth-generation V-NAND memory, and a new proprietary controller.

The 1TB Samsung  eUFS chip offers twice the storage capacity of its predecessor in the same package size (11.5 mm x 13.0 mm), by stacking 16 layers of Samsung’s 512 Gb V-NAND flash memory.

The larger storage capacity is important as 4K videos become more popular, and smartphone cameras increase in resolution. The recently-launched HONOR View20, for example, sports a 48 MP camera whose photos come in at about 15 MB in size!

The 1TB storage capacity will allow you to record approximately 43 hours of 4K videos, or 67,000 photos from a 48 MP camera. Your entire life can literally be stored in this one chip!

Higher Performance

In addition to doubling single-chip storage capacity, the 1TB Samsung eUFS chip is significantly faster. With a read speed of up to 1 GB/s, it is about twice as fast as solid state drives used in high-end laptops!

Samsung also improved its random read and write speeds by 38% and 25% respectively over its 512 GB predecessor. This means it is approximately 500X faster than a typical microSD card!

Memory Sequential
Read Speed
Sequential Write Speed Random
Read Speed
Random
Write Speed
1TB Samsung
eUFS 2.1
(Jan. 2019)
1000 MB/s 260 MB/s 58,000 IOPS 50,000 IOPS
512GB Samsung
eUFS 2.1
(Nov. 2017)
860 MB/s 255 MB/s 42,000 IOPS 40,000 IOPS
Samsung eUFS 2.1
for automotive
(Sept. 2017)
850 MB/s 150 MB/s 45,000 IOPS 32,000 IOPS
256GB Samsung
UFS Card
(July 2016)
530 MB/s 170 MB/s 40,000 IOPS 35,000 IOPS
256GB Samsung
eUFS 2.0
(Feb. 2016)
850 MB/s 260 MB/s 45,000 IOPS 40,000 IOPS
128GB Samsung
eUFS 2.0
(Jan. 2015)
350 MB/s 150 MB/s 19,000 IOPS 14,000 IOPS
eMMC 5.1 250 MB/s 125 MB/s 11,000 IOPS 13,000 IOPS
eMMC 5.0 250 MB/s 90 MB/s 7,000 IOPS 13,000 IOPS
eMMC 4.5 140 MB/s 50 MB/s 7,000 IOPS 2,000 IOPS

Such high performance is important for flagship smartphones, because it allows them to support high-speed photography and video recording at 960 frames per second or faster!

 

1TB Samsung eUFS Availability

Samsung has already begun mass-producing the 1TB Samsung eUFS chip. We should see devices using this new storage chip this year.

In fact, they anticipate strong demand for the chip in 2019, and plan to expand the production of their 5th generation 512 Gb V-NAND memory at their Pyeongtaek plant in the first half of 2019, to meet this demand.

 

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HUAWEI P20 Pro Recalled After Shipping With Real ROM!

Excited about the HUAWEI P20 Pro? You may have to wait a while longer! Sources tell us that HUAWEI recalled over 60,000 of their P20 Pro smartphones after they shipped with real ROM!

 

The HUAWEI P20 Pro Recall

The HUAWEI P20 Pro is 6.1″ smartphone with a Full HD+ OLED display, and is powered by the octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 970, with 6 GB of LPDDR4 memory128 GB of flash storage, and a 4,000 mAh battery.

However, a large number of the P20 Pro had to be recalled after HUAWEI discovered that they shipped with real ROM, instead of regular flash memory. In a way, these 60,000 HUAWEI P20 Pro smartphones made history by being the first smartphones to actually shipped with real ROM chips!

HUAWEI traced the fault to a manager at their flash memory supplier who took their order for ROM chips too literally. They shipped actual ROM chips to them, instead of eMMC / UFS NAND chips that smartphones use.

The unnamed manager defended his action, pointing out that even HUAWEI’s website clearly states that the P20 Pro comes with ROM, and not regular NAND flash memory chips.

We checked, and true enough, the HUAWEI website officially lists that the HUAWEI P20 Pro comes with 128 GB ROM.

The moral of this story – STOP CALLING FLASH MEMORY ROM!!!

 

ROM versus Flash

ROM is short for Read Only Memory. The most basic ROM chip has its data programmed during its manufacture, and cannot be deleted or edited. ROM chips are useful because they are non-volatile – they retain their data even when power is cut.

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Newer ROM chips can be reprogrammed, but only slowly and with some difficulty – the entire chip must be erased before being overwritten. They are mostly used to store computer firmware that are not changed very often.

Flash memory, which is used as smartphone storage and in computer solid state drives, is also non-volatile. But their data can be replaced on a block-by-block basis, allowing them to be used as storage devices.

In short – smartphones do NOT use ROM chips for storage. They use flash memory chips!

 

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The 400GB SanDisk Ultra microSD Card Revealed!

SanDisk just unveiled the 400GB SanDisk Ultra microSD card for smartphones and devices. That’s a humungous amount of storage in such a tiny storage device!

 

The 400GB SanDisk Ultra microSD Card Revealed!

For non-iPhone users, SanDisk offers the new 400GB SanDisk Ultra microSD card – the world’s highest-capacity microSD card. It will be available for purchase in Malaysia from December 2017 onwards.

The new 400GB SanDisk Ultra microSD card has copious storage capacity, and is rated at UHS-I with a 100 MB/s read speed. That means you can copy up to 1200 photos per minute!

It has also been certified as Application Performance Class 1, delivering a minimum of 1,500 IOPS (read) and 500 IOPS (write). That means you can install your apps on this microSD card for faster loading speed!

Like other microSD cards, the 400GB SanDisk Ultra microSD card is waterproof, temperature-proof, X-ray proof, magnet-proof and of course, shock-proof.

For easy file management, you can download the SanDisk Memory Zone app from the Google Play store. It lets you view, access and backup your smartphone’s files in one location. It can also automatically move files from your device to the 400GB SanDisk Ultra microSD card.

 

Price & Availability

The 400GB SanDisk Ultra microSD card comes with a ten-year limited warranty and will be available in Malaysia at 11street, Lazada and Shopee starting from December 2017.

In Malaysia, it will have a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of RM 1,499 / ~US$ 357. If you are in the US, you can purchase it for just $249.99.

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WD Announces BiCS4 – World’s First 96-Layer 3D NAND Tech

Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC), today announced that it has successfully developed its next-generation 3D NAND technology, BiCS4, with 96 layers of vertical storage capability. Sampling to OEM customers is expected to commence in the second half of calendar year 2017 and initial production output is expected in calendar year 2018.

 

The BiCS4 96-Layer 3D NAND Technology

BiCS4, which was developed jointly with Western Digital’s technology and manufacturing partner Toshiba Corporation, will be initially deployed in a 256-gigabit chip and will subsequently ship in a range of capacities, including a terabit on a single chip.

“Our successful development of the industry’s first 96-layer 3D NAND technology demonstrates Western Digital’s continued leadership in NAND flash and solid execution to our technology roadmap,” said Dr. Siva Sivaram, executive vice president of memory technology at Western Digital. “BiCS4 will be available in 3-bits-per-cell and 4-bits-per-cell architectures, and it contains technology and manufacturing innovations to provide the highest 3D NAND storage capacity, performance and reliability at an attractive cost for our customers. Western Digital’s 3D NAND portfolio is designed to address the full range of end markets spanning consumer, mobile, computing and data center.”

Western Digital also highlighted strong ongoing operations at its joint venture manufacturing facilities in Japan. In particular, the company reiterated its expectation that in calendar year 2017, the output mix of its 64-layer 3D NAND technology, BiCS3, will comprise more than 75 percent of its overall 3D NAND bit supply. The company now believes that, along with its partner Toshiba Corporation, the combined 64-layer 3D NAND bit output of the joint ventures in calendar year 2017 will be higher than any other industry supplier in calendar year 2017.

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Stacker NAND Technology TRIPLES Flash Capacity

Terrarium Labs announces the successful certification of their Stacker NAND technology which triples the capacity of existing flash memory technologies. As an IP R&D company based in the China West Technology Park, Terrarium Labs has been focused on developing compression technology to massively expand flash storage capacity.

 

Stacker NAND Technology

Unlike existing MLC and TLC NAND technologies, Stacker NAND works independently of NAND process technologies. In fact, it is applied to existing NAND flash technologies to triple their capacities.

The Stacker NAND technology uses two different compression methods to deliver TRIPLE the capacity of any existing NAND flash storage technology.

The first is a lossless data compression algorithm that compresses data before they are written to the NAND flash memory. Depending on the file type, this can almost double the amount of data that can be stored in a particular flash chip.

To further increase the storage capacity to 3X, they add a lossy compression technology which applies filters that reduces the randomness of the data. This allows the earlier lossless compression technology to be even more effective.

At the moment, Terrarium says 3X more storage is a good compromise between additional storage and loss of data. But if necessary, they can scale it up to 5X or even 6X.

 

Only For Photos & Videos

As you can tell, the Stacker NAND technology cannot be used for regular data. It is designed to be used only for photos and videos. Terrarium Labs was very explicit that their compression technology will change some data in return for much small file sizes when compressed. However, they see this as a small price to pay for much larger storage capacities at the same price.

According to Terrarium Labs, a 256 Gbit Stacker NAND module paired with a regular 256 Gbit NAND module will double the effective capacity for very little cost – 768 Gbit of lossy storage + 256 Gbit of lossless storage.

Below is a prototype M.2 SSD module they created out of one regular 256 Gbit NAND module and two 256 Gbit Stacker NAND modules for 2.33X the effective storage capacity – 1,792 Gbits of storage, instead of just 768 Gbits. That’s just over 1,000 Gbits of extra storage!

Although Terrarium Labs admits that their lossy compression algorithm will reduce image quality, they say that at 3X, this is minimal and will only be obvious if the pictures or videos are examined very closely. They also pointed out that some of the filters used will actually reduce noise, which enhances picture and video quality.

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Photo Comparison

Obviously, we found that hard to believe, so they invited us to send them some photo samples. We sent them a dozen photo samples from the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 and the recently-reviewed honor 5X smartphone. Take a look at the four comparisons of their lossy compression filters at work.

They are correct that the difference is subtle and only apparent up close. There is some loss of detail, but also less noise. But would you accept such changes?

 

Adaptable

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Terrarium partners can pair the Terrarium Stacker processor with any number of NAND modules, and choose either lossless or lossy compression, or both.

Terrarium is also offering the compression software to partners who prefer to do without the processor, but it may sap up to 30% of a quad-core processor’s cycles.

They claim they’re currently in talks with the top smartphone manufacturers from the United States, Korea and China to introduce the Stacker processor and/or software into the next-generation smartphones.

 

Fun Fact

Tech old-timers will remember Stacker, the disk compression utility for MS-DOS. It not only doubled the capacity of our puny 42 MB hard disk drives, it also sped up reads and writes by compressing data before they were written to the abysmally-slow hard disk drives of the day. However, Stac Electronics, the company that developed Stacker soon crumbled after Microsoft introduced their free DoubleSpace disk compression software.

Little known to many, Stac Electronics spun off a chip making company called Hifn, which makes encryption and compression processors. Some of Hifn’s key engineers are those who helped form Terrarium Labs. That’s why they named their first product – Stacker.

 

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