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Flash Memory Summit paints SSD, flash future

Posted: 17 Aug 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SanDisk? SSD? flash? FTL? EEPROM?

The Flash Translation Layer that Norman developed turned out to be key to getting the drives adopted across a wide variety of systems down to today's smartphones and servers. Today, Norman is listed on 56 of the key patents at SanDisk, a company that has earned a whopping $5 billion in royalties.

Robert Norman

Norman, a holder of nearly 200 issued patents, spoke to the event via video.

Stepping up to vertical NAND

48-layer 3D NAND products

Mark Webb predicts only 48-layer 3D NAND products will be cheaper than traditional planar flash chips, and not until sometime in 2016.

All flash makers are working on 3D NAND chips now, but only a handful will be below the cost of today's traditional planar chips in the near term, said Mark Webb, an Albuquerque-based consultant on memory chip pricing. His chart above suggests only 48-layer chips will be cheaper than 2D versions, and then only starting sometime in 2016. The transition to 3D NAND won't be well underway until 2018, he predicted in a session on the first day of the event.

At that session, an SK Hynix engineer said the company is starting production of 30+-layer chips this fall. One the show floor it gave attendees a close up look at one of its prototype wafers (below).

3D NAND wafer

SK Hynix gave an early peek at one of its first 3D NAND wafers.

What's beyond flash?

Memory development

More than a dozen major development efforts are working on memory types beyond today's traditional DRAM and flash chips. Dave Eggleston, former CEO of Unity Semiconductor, a resistive RAM developer and now a principal at Intuitive Cognition Consulting, mapped out the companies working on them (above) and their latest achievements (below).

Eggleston's advice was clear: None of the next-generation memories will replace DRAM or flash. But "we are moving from an SRAM-DRAM-NAND world into one of blended combinations" for different applications. The decoder rings will only get more complicated.

Memory development

Samsung's hero drive

Samsung drive

Samsung announced at the event its PM1633a, a 15.36TB, 2.5in SSD, billed as the world's densest drive. It will use the company's new 48-layer, three-bit/cell V-NAND chips. Samsung did not say just when it will be available and at what price, but the main role of this sort of hero product is to sit under glass at show floors like the Flash Summit.

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