3D NAND - On its Way

The past several weeks have been big for 3D NAND flash technology.

Samsung announced it had begun mass production of its first 3D vertical NAND flash memory, a 128GB chip using 24 cell layers. Following this news, at the Flash Memory Summit, Samsung Executive Vice President and General Manager E.S. Jung delivered  a special keynote address,  titled ”Ushering in the 3D Memory Era with Vertical NAND.”  In his talk, he told the audience that Samsung’s implementation of 3D NAND was delivering impressive performance benefits over its previous 19nm planar NAND:  2 times higher density, 2 times faster write speed, 50 percent less power consumption and 10 times better endurance. On top of these benefits, Jung went on to say that the manufacturing costs for 3D NAND are 30 to 40 percent less than planar NAND thanks to reduced need for lithography tools.  Supporting his speech, Jung showed several products including a 960GB SSD that was made with 3D NAND and also a laptop incorporating a 3D NAND SSD.

In another retrospective from the Flash Memory Summit, the panel I participated on titled “Flash Below 20nm: What is Coming and When?” provided updates and some interesting points regarding next generation flash memory. My fellow panelists mostly consisted of representatives from major companies in the memory business (Micron, SanDisk, SK Hynix and Spansion). While they expressed a more conservative approach to 3D NAND implementation (most said they’d have 3D NAND products shipping after 16nm planar NAND), the overall consensus was that the benefits of 3D NAND are worth the investments, and that we should expect to see products using 3D NAND (most likely SSDs) on shelves next year.

(L to R) Moderator: Jim Handy, Analyst, Objective Analysis; Saied Tehrani, CTO, Spansion; Ritu Shrivastava, vice president, technology development, SanDisk; Mark Webb, consultant; Myoung Kwan Cho, research fellow, SK Hynix.

To read more on these two sessions, I recommend Richard Goering’s blog on Cadence Design Systems' web site.

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