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Intel offers new 3D MLC NAND technology

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November 21, 2014

IMTF and Intel Micron Flash Technologies, a partnership between Intel and Micron, offer new 3D MLC NAND technology which will be used to build 10 TB SSDs in 2016.

The news came in a webcast for Intel investors yesterday with Rob Crooke, general manager of Intel's non-volatile memory solutions group.

A 3D flash die is made up from layers of ordinary or 2D planar cells stacked one above the other.

Of course, the process geometry wasn't revealed publicly but is thought to be 3X - 39-30nm.

Additionally, whether or not Intel actually builds 3D chips itself has not been decided yet. The default seems to be that IMTF's Lehi Utah foundry will build it.

We could expect Micron to have access to the same technology soon. Crooke foresaw 10 TB SSDs in two years, meaning late 2016, or early 2017, and promised disruptive costing per-GB pricing nearer that of disk.

He added that there could be 1 TB, 2 mm thick mobile device flash products using the technology as well, suggesting tablet and mobile phone storage capacity could increase.

Other 3D flash initiatives are coming from Hynix, Samsung and SanDisk, with Samsung being the most advanced.

Samsung's V-NAND is used in the 3.2 TB SM1715 NVMe server flash card. Its 845DC PRO SSD is a 24-layer V-NAND product using 40 nm geometry with 128 GB chips.

The SSD 850 PRO is a 32-layer Samsung V-NAND product which has a 10-year warranty. This product uses 86 Gbit dies and the technology can be implanted as 128 Gbit TLC dies.

Currently, Intel has a major capacity advantage, in theory at least. Another generation of 3D NAND technology can be expected from Samsung in mid-2015, with an expected capacity increase.

Hynix is believed to start to mass-produce 3D NAND by the end of this year. SanDisk has a P-BiCS process using vertical strings of bits and not 2D planar layers.

Products using it may arrive next year. Altogether, we can expect substantial jumps in SSD and flash card capacity next year as 3D NAND production becomes mainstream.

Source: Intel.

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