Intel and Micron announced availability of new 3D NAND Flash memory they developed jointly with up to three times the capacity of existing flash technology. The product was developed by a joint venture the two companies formed in 2006 called IM Flash Technologies.
Intel says that a key design aspect in the new 3D NAND Flash is a floating gate cell, which stacks flash cells vertically in 32 layers to achieve 256Gb multilevel cell (MLC) and 384Gb triple-level cell (TLC) die. This allows creation of gum-stick-size SSDs with more than 3.5TB of storage, or regular 2.5 inch SSDs with over 10TB of capacity.
According to Intel and Micron, the new design features improved latency and increased endurance over previous generations and new low-power sleep modes that cut power to inactive NAND die. Putting stock in the all-flash data center, Intel puts forth the tenet that 3D NAND Flash will extend Moore’s Law for flash storage and both improve density and lower cost of NAND flash.
With this early entry of 3D NAND technology Intel and Micron leverage their-long standing partnership and hope to grow their own respective market share. IM Flash has produced innovative memory products for almost a decade, with engineering and fabrication located in Lehi, Utah.
Providing further evidence to the evolution toward 3D NAND Flash, Toshiba also recently announced the development of a 48-layer 3D stacked cell structure flash memory called BiCS. Samsung, Hynix and SanDisk also have active 3D NAND product strategies. Wikibon believes flash storage will drive big benefits for the enterprise through “order-of-magnitude improvements in speed and I/O.” It also hypothesizes that the “lifetime cost of flash will fall 50-fold from $470 per terabyte today to $9 per terabyte in 2020.”
Intel says the 256Gb MLC version of 3D NAND is sampling with select partners today, and the 384Gb TLC design will be sampling later this spring.