Print 10 comment(s) - last by geddarkstorm.. on Dec 6 at 12:34 PM

IMFT can make 128GB NAND in a single fingertip-sized package
Production could quadruple, but demand is still high

Intel Micron Flash Technologies, commonly known as IMFT, is a major manufacturer of the NAND flash memory used in Solid State Drives, tablets, smartphones, and other devices. Most of the company's production is currently on the 25nm node, but it is currently transitioning to a 20nm process. IMFT first began test production of the new 64Gb chips in April, but has now moved into full production at its fab in Lehi, Utah.

The new 64Gb chips measure 118mm2 and use High-k Metal Gate (HKMG) technology to reduce gate leakage. A planar cell structure is also used to produce a more symmetrical die, allowing for easier packaging than conventional floating gate cells. This allows for identical 3-5K write cycling as found in the 25nm MLC NAND.

IMFT is currently testing a larger 128Gb chip for mass production next year. It will meet the ONFI 3.0 specification and achieve speeds of up to 333 MT/s. Page sizes will double from 8KB to 16KB. The new design will enable 16GB of storage in a single chip, and 128GB in a typical eight die package. SSDs of up to 2 terabytes will be available using these new chips.

Intel is planning on the introduction of a new generation of SSDs using 20nm NAND within 2 to 3 quarters, according to a source within the company. Seagate also uses NAND from IMFT in its Momentus XT hybrid drives, and will most likely use a 16GB MLC chip in its next generation.

Intel Micron Flash Singapore (IMFS) is currently using the 25nm process as well, and will transition to 20nm in late 2012. The new 128Gb chips will almost quadruple the amount of NAND produced by IMFT. This will likely lower production costs, leading to lower prices for consumers. However, all of this massive supply will be tempered by strong consumer demand as more tablets, SSDs, and hybrid drives hit the market in 2012.

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By bug77 on 12/6/2011 9:36:37 AM , Rating: 2
What is "identical 3-5K write cycling as found in the 25nm MLC NAND"? Does it mean that you can only write a cell 5000 times?

RE: Question
By BioHazardous on 12/6/2011 9:54:08 AM , Rating: 3
That is correct. I'm actually kind of surprised a normal reader on here didn't know about the write limitations that have been talked about as issues of using SSDs for years now.

If I remember correctly, it has something to do with the electron tunneling process of writing to a cell degrading the poly gate.

RE: Question
By Jansen on 12/6/2011 10:26:23 AM , Rating: 2
This is why write leveling is so important in SSDs. Keep in mind though, that you will still be able to read from an SSD even if it has reached the maximum number of writes.

Most users who have SSD boot drives won't encounter this problem since it is principally set up as a cache drive. The larger the SSD, the better the leveling.

RE: Question
By geddarkstorm on 12/6/2011 12:34:14 PM , Rating: 4
Anandtech did the calculation where even under heavy workstation like writing, it would take something like well over 100 years to start losing enough cells to impact storage in a standard SSD. Of course, this will be affected by the absolute size of the SSD and the amount of spare storage space. But regardless, and surprisingly enough, 3-5K writes per cell will actually last well past most of our life spans.

I know, seeing a number that low makes me edgy too, but SSD tech is just so different from our traditional HDD view. Don't ever have to write to the same cell (ala wear leveling algorithms), just update the LBA table.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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