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SanDisk to shift flash devices to 1Ynm

Posted: 01 Feb 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share


SanDisk has revealed that it will begin the transition of its flash products to 1Ynm generation semiconductors in 3Q13. The company is producing high volumes of 19nm based products, more than 50 per cent of its output in 4Q12, although 24nm flash memory will have a "tail" that will last throughout 2013, the company stated.

SanDisk's announcement means that Flash Forward Ltd., a manufacturing joint venture between Toshiba and SanDisk with a relatively new Fab 5 300mm wafer fab at Toshiba's Yokkaichi campus in Mie prefecture, Japan, will be making close the most miniaturized commercial ICs in the history of the semiconductor industry. That is unless one of the few rivals, IM Flash Technologies, Samsung or SK Hynix can get there first, indicated SanDisk.

The company's roadmap has the 1Ynm process lowering the cost of 128Gb memory ICs in 2013 and a 1Znm process taking monolithic memory to 256Gb in 2014. But judging who is most miniaturized all depends on how you define the 1Ynm generation.

Over the last few years flash memory producers have started to become increasingly coy about declaring the minimum feature size of their processes. It started when one of the companies started talking of 30nm class and 20nm class manufacturing processes. By this, the company meant a process with a minimum geometry between 30nm and 39nm and between 20nm and 29nm, respectively.

The other manufacturers quickly followed suit.

The psychology seems to be that if a company went public with the geometry detail before they got into volume manufacturing there would be concerns that a rival would somehow trump them and steal business. Of course once a product is out on the market it is possible for reverse engineering consultancies to cross-section chips and make independent assessments of the minimum geometry.

This way of labelling chip generations is slightly different to the logic business where for each node a number is given but the nomenclature is becoming increasingly arbitrary. We have the prospect of 16nm and 14nm FinFET nodes coming in 2013 or 2014 that will use 20nm back-end processes and are effectively 20nm processes.

What we now know is that for Flash Forward, Toshiba and SanDisk, the 2Xnm node is a 24nm node, while the 1Xnm node is 19nm node. This would seem to put 1Ynm at somewhere around 15nm or 14nm. That would give some room for the 1Znm generation to come in at 11nm or 10nm, which is now being touted as the last possible generation of NAND flash. We will see.

- Peter Clarke
??EE Times

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