Toshiba and SanDisk -- both pioneers and fairly important players in the flash memory market -- are teaming up to deliver the smallest-process NAND technology. Reports indicate the planned move to 20nm-based NAND technology is on track for production in the latter half of next year. The upcoming spec will replace the relatively new 32nm process currently used by Toshiba.

Intel may beat them to the punch though, with plans to introduce sub-30nm NAND before the end of the year. It would still give SanDisk a useful edge in the flash market, where their primary objective now seems to be offering very high-capacity SSDs without bankrupting their customers. Regardless of who gets there first, it indicates that 2010 will likely see lower priced SSDs as storage density increases and production costs drop.

Toshiba, SanDisk, Intel and Micron are all preparing to use 3-bit per cell NAND chips, which will further sink prices. Intel is on the forefront of 3bpc technology, announcing the readiness of 3bpc products before the end of the year. 34nm and 32nm-based SSDs are expected to use a 3bpc design, and it may be a staple going forward.

However, it also means a performance hit compared to current SSDs, which use 2 bits per cell. Whether or not the increased storage density will compensate for that remains to be seen, but a lower price tag almost assuredly will.