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Smaller, bigger, faster. The more time that goes by, the bigger the number of bits they squeeze into smaller places for less money. And always faster than before. This time it's Samsung, with news today that it has begun volume production of flash memory that's more than three times faster than previous versions in a 30-nm die, which it claims makes it the world's smallest.

In a separate announcement, the Korean giant said it is now producing the world's first 3-bit, multi-level-cell NAND flash chips using its 30-nm process. The circuits will be initially used to produce 8GB microSD cards, the company said, but can also be used for USB memory devices and products storing 32GB and higher.

Toshiba started shipping similar parts under the SanDisk brand earlier this year, but those are made using a 32-nm process. While 2 nm might not seem like much, it can make a big difference to microSD cards, which are commonly found in cell phones and other handheld devices. And a thinner die allows more memory to be crammed into the same space without using more power, according to claims. And then there's the bragging rights--Samsung now holds the rights to the smallest footprint. At least for now.

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