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3D NAND industry-wide adoption still shaky

Posted: 05 Dec 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3D NAND? 2D NAND? memristor?

Although 3D NAND development and production is expected to significantly rise next year, this does not automatically mean mass adoption.

Samsung Electronics announced in August it had begun mass production of a 128 Gbit NAND flash memory that is integrated in multiple layers, while Imec, a nanoelectronics research group, recently announced it had developed a new approach to layered flash using a technique known as laser annealing. Toshiba plans to begin 3D NAND production early next year, having announced plans to expand NAND production facilities in the summer.

Now that 2D NAND flash is reaching reliability limit, says Brady Wang, principal analyst with Gartner, memory vendors across the board are looking at how to respond to ever-growing demand for non-volatile memory, even if some aren't going public with their plans and timelines. It won't be until next year that Samsung's 3D NAND, which is produced at 32nm with 32 layers, will be widely available, he says. "Its cost is still higher than the fully loaded cost of conventional NAND at 16 nm process geometry."

Developing a production process for 3D NAND that will allow costs for NAND flash to continue to fall is one of the key hurdles for 3D NAND if it is to become a viable successor to 2D NAND.

As Jim Handy, principal analyst at Objective Analysis, wrote in his ongoing blog series covering the why and how of 3D NAND, it's not stacks of chips, although many have that misconception. A stack of chips doesn't save money.

Ever since the integrated circuit was invented, the whole race has been to see how many transistors or how many bits of memory you can squeeze onto the same size piece of silicon," Handy said in an interview with EE Times. "That's how semiconductor costs have come down.

Storage of multimedia, particularly video, has created a ballooning demand for NAND flash, particularly on consumer devices, says Handy. Device makers such as Apple like to maintain price points for their products while enriching the feature set, which includes better storage capacity.

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