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3D NAND scales memory back to Moore's Law

Posted: 11 Jan 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Micron Technology? data centre? SSD? NAND? 3D?

Micron Technology Inc. has revealed that flash memory is back on the Moore's Law scaling curve, due to its move into 3D structures. Prior to going 3D, the company could only shrink each new generation in its x-y dimensions, but they hit the wall at 20nm, only able to shrink in one direction, either x or y, at the 16nm node.

"3D gets NAND back on a regular scaling curve," said Kevin Kilbuck, Micron's director of NAND Strategic Planning. "Our first generation is 32 layers in the vertical direction while relaxing the x-y design rules back several generations."

By going 3D, Micron has been able to keep increasing chip capacity per package while relaxing the x-y scaling rules. Relaxing the x-y design rules improves the performance and reliability compared with sub-20nm planar NAND.

3D NAND wafer

3D NAND wafer close-up reveals Micron and Intel unveil new 3D NAND technology with three times higher capacity than other NAND dies in production. (Source: Micron, used with permission)

"As you approach the x-y scaling limit, you start running out of electrons and get a lot more interference," Kilbuck said. "Going 3D solved that problem for us, while still keeping the packages in the 1mm to 1.4mm range with the same pinout."

In its fabs in Singapore and Lehi, Utah (half-owned by Intel) Micron's first generation 3D NAND chips will be 32GB and 48GB. With up to 16 layers in a single package super high density solid-state drives (SSDs) can be made for servers and data centres. For the future, Micron plans 2TB 3D NAND packages, allowing an SSD using 16 of them to pack up to 32TB.

"Our solution is the first 3D NAND technology built on a floating gate cell," Kilbuck added. "It also has an architecture enabling industry-leading monolithic MLC and TLC die. Unlike competitive solutions, our first-generation 3D NAND is architected to achieve better cost efficiencies than planar NAND.

Micron's 3D NAND die

Micron's 3D NAND die is small enough to boost solid-state SSDs the size of gum sticks to 3.5T. (Source: Micron)

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