SanDisk has announced a 16GB embedded flash drive aimed at satisfying the need for increased storage from the latest generation of mobile devices.

Unlike microSD and miniSD cards, the iNAND flash drive is an embedded device. The 12mm x 16mm iNAND 16GB device is expected to be available for sampling to mobile handset vendors in the second quarter of this year.

It effectively doubles the storage capacity into a standard JEDEC package compared to SanDisk's previous 8GB iNAND card. SanDisk says it is able to do this thanks to recent advances in multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash technology.

Speaking to Techworld from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where the iNAND 16GB drive is being showcased, product marketing director David Guidry said he expected to see mass production to begin sometime in the third quarter.

A 32GB iNAND is also slated for introduction in the second half of 2008, although this looks more likely towards the end of the year. The iNAND devices continue to utilise the SD interface2.

"We see a lot of interest from OEMs for high capacity storage," said Guidry, highlighting the fact that this card is aimed at the new generation of mobile handsets, which are combining more and more storage intensive features such as music players, digital cameras, video recording, and GPS capabilities.

Sony Ericsson is one handset maker that currently uses the iNAND drive, and according to Guidry, "a few others are in the pipeline."

"Featuring a standard package interface, the 16GB iNAND EFD is designed to be quickly integrated into various handset designs for both storage capacity scalability and a smooth migration to future products and functionalities, such as system boot," said Dan Inbar, general manager of SanDisk's mobile handset vendors division in a statement.

SanDisk unveiled a 4GB iNAND flash device back in September 2005.

Looking forward, Guidry said that it could be feasible to expect a 64GB iNAND device during 2009. "Look at our history, we double roughly every twelve months, although we cannot guarantee we will continue at that rate," he said. "But so far we have been fairly consistent with that time frame."