Global Sources
EE Times-Asia
Stay in touch with EE Times Asia
EE Times-Asia > Memory/Storage

3D XPoint moves from lab to fab

Posted: 18 Jan 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IM Flash? 3D? XPoint? memory? NAND?

As 3D XPoint memory chips have finally gone beyond research phase and into commercial production, an IM Flash executive revealed additional details about the innovative memory technology, its road map and how difficult it is to develop.

Intel and Micron announced in July they had defined 3D XPoint as a new memory architecture that fills a gap between DRAM and flash, delivering NAND like density at significantly higher performance and lower latency. "Chalcogenide material and an Ovonyx switch are magic parts of this technology with the original work starting back in the 1960's," said Guy Blalock, co-CEO of IM Flash.

It could take 12-18 months to get XPoint into mass production, Blalock said. He noted several challenges for making those chips as well as 3D NAND devices, both in the works at the joint venture's Lehi, Utah fab.

"We are swimming through deep water to get to the future enabled by these new products," Blalock said. Nevertheless he promised XPoint samples are "right around the corner" give the R&D guys a little more time to work out the kinks," he said.

One downside of the new materials is their potential for cross contamination. To mitigate that threat "you proliferate a lot of process steps for layer over layer deposition with a lot of diffusion and CVD," Blalock said, confirming speculation that emerged last year.

3D NAND and XPoint

3D NAND and XPoint dramatically drive up space and costs requirements. (Image: IM Flash)

3D Xpoint uses as many as 100 new materials, raising supply chain issues. "For some we may only have one supplier in one location...many customers will not tolerate this level of risk, they want multiple sources or locations for safety from natural disasters," he said.

The unique vertical designs of XPoint and 3D NAND require more machines running process steps, cutting fab throughput by an estimated 15 per cent. "We have never seen technology that challenges us at this level of de-rating," Blalock said.

The extra gear could drive 3-5x increases in capital expenses and space needed, compared to prior new generations of flash. In addition, future generations of XPoint are expected to require more spending and space than upgrades of 3D NAND.

Thus IM Flash is pushing equipment makers to raise system productivity dramatically. To keep fab output neutral, wet processes must leap from handling 180 wafers/hour in 26 square feet of floor space for first generation products to handling a whopping 1,000W/h in 20 square feet for third generation parts.

1???2?Next Page?Last Page

Article Comments - 3D XPoint moves from lab to fab
*? You can enter [0] more charecters.
*Verify code:


Visit Asia Webinars to learn about the latest in technology and get practical design tips.

Back to Top