It appears that Samsung has just taken the lead in the battle over NAND chip manufacturing prowess. Outclassing Toshiba as well as Intel and Micron's joint venture, IM Flash Technologies, the company announced it has begun producing and sampling 20-nanometer class, MLC NAND chips for SD cards and other memory solutions.

The chips should allow not only up to 50% more storage than current 30nm parts, but also a speed increase and lower costs. Samsung estimates that an 8GB SDHC card will be about 30% faster with a guaranteed Class 10 (10MB/s) write speed and 20MB/s read speeds. The technology will center on 32 gigabit (4GB) chips that can be stacked or combined for capacities as high as 64GB, and is aimed at memory cards and embedded memory for devices such as smartphones.

Mass production is slated to start by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Toshiba is beginning a transition from 32nm parts to an undecided but sub-30nm process, with production of chips with circuitry widths in the lower 20nm slated to start in 2012. IM Flash announced its 25nm technology in January, about a year and a half after it started using 34nm technology.