“Through our continued investment in IMFT, we’re delivering
leadership technology and manufacturing that enables the most
cost-effective and reliable NAND memory,” said Tom Rampone, Vice
President and General Manager of Intel's NAND Solutions Group.
DailyTech saw some 22nm
shuttle test wafers at last year's Intel Developer Forum. The
world's largest semiconductor company expects to introduce the new
process at the end of next year for its Ivy Bridge CPUs, but needs to
do a lot of development work first. One of the best ways to do that
is to develop a less advanced intermediary step, and the partnership
with IMFT allows them to do just that.
IMFT has developed a new 64Gb (8GB) NAND flash memory chip in a
compact 167mm2, doubling the density of its 32Gb chips built on the
34nm process. The company will thus be able to produce twice as much
capacity for roughly the same cost at its fab in Lehi, Utah, which is
currently producing 34nm flash. Development of the 25nm process
(codenamed L74) using 300mm wafers was spearheaded by Micron's Fab 4
in Boise, Idaho.
Frequent readers may recall that IMFT announced its 34nm process
in November of 2008, but had problems ramping into mass production
until the summer of last year. This was primarily due to difficulties
in skipping the 43nm node and going directly to 34nm from 50nm.
However, we spoke with Dave Baglee and Rod Morgan, IMFT's
Co-executive Officers, who assured us that the ramp has been
progressing very smoothly.
Yields are much better than the 34nm during the same timeframe,
and write speeds will be similar or greater to today's NAND using the
ONFI 2.2 standard. The number of maximum
write-cycles will also be coming in closer to today's standard
than the 3-bit MLC NAND that other companies are pinning their hopes
on. Page and block sizes will double on the new chips, to 8KB and 256
Production of the new multi-level cell chips will start in the
second quarter, with mass production ramping up into the third
quarter. The first batches will go into embedded products first,
while new SSD models getting the new chips are undergoing
verification and testing. Intel isn't promising any significant price
reductions, but will instead tailor its pricing to meet market
Intel, Micron, and its
customers are expected to introduce new SSDs in the latter half
of this year using the new technology. Although the company won’t
officially confirm any details, Intel is expected to release larger
capacities using a newer, faster NAND flash controller.
“To lead the entire semiconductor industry with the most
advanced process technology is a phenomenal feat for Intel and
Micron, and we look forward to further pushing the scaling limits,”
said Brian Shirley, Vice President of Micron’s memory group. “This
production technology will enable significant benefits to our
customers through higher density media solutions.”
will help speed the adoption of solid-state drive solutions for
computing,” added Rampone.
IMFT also sees a clear path to
NAND flash development below 20nm, despite forecasts of scaling
hitting a wall. IMFT is making extensive use of techniques like
double mask patterning and immersion lithography, and may end up
using EUV lithography in the future.