Print 13 comment(s) - last by TheJian.. on Nov 18 at 12:03 PM

New memory recycles last-gen process, but still offers 30 percent performance gains

Embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC) -- tiny chips soldered to smartphone and tablet motherboards via ball-grid arrays -- are a staple of the mobile industry.  Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930offered up some exciting news today, revealing that it had started production of 10 nm-class (10-19 nm) NAND for eMMC, taking mobile storage to new levels of "tiny".

The new 64 GB NAND Flash storage chips, which are built on the eMMC 4.5 standard, which Samsung basically wrote itself, offer random writes of 2,000 IOPS (input-output operations per second), random reads of 5,000 IOPS, sequential reads at 260 MB/s, and sequential write speeds of 50 MB/s.

Those stats are about 30 percent up from the first-generation eMMC 4.5 devices (mature 20 nm product), which Samsung delivered five months ago.

More good news for Samsung is that it was able to repurpose its 20 nm lines to produce the 10 nm-class chips.  It says the process compatibility is expected to increase its manufacturing yields around 30 percent.

Samsung NAND flash
Samsung is now producing NAND on the 10-19 nm node. [Image Source: Samsung]

Samsung also shaved over 20 percent off the volume off the traditional 12 mm by 16 mm flash BGA package, squeezing the chips into a 11.5 mm by 13 mm form factor.  The chipmaker, having deeply invested in development of eMMC 4.5 is looking to submit it to JEDEC (the Joint Electron Engineering Council), next year, requesting that it be made an industry standard.

Recently, there has been controversy regarding Apple, Inc. (AAPL) being forced to pay more for Samsung's chips, in the wake of its decision to continue to attack the better selling smartphone maker in court.  The new 10 nm-class Flash chips are likely enough to leave Apple -- purveyor of all things thin -- salivating, but they may be another opportunity for Samsung to extract a piece of fiscal revenge on its dependent rival. 

Source: Samsung [press release]

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Don't feed the hype
By DanNeely on 11/16/2012 12:33:35 AM , Rating: 4
"10nm class" means anywhere between 10 and 19nm. The fact that they're being so vague probably means the upper end of the range. I know that's what they did with their 20nm class flash which at 27nm was the largest of the 20nm class options on the market. (comments)

RE: Don't feed the hype
By geddarkstorm on 11/16/2012 2:41:13 AM , Rating: 3
I think you're right, considering that last I heard, at least, no one had figured out how to get past 11 nm, or even if that could actually be reached. There's so many quantum problems once you get down to 14 nm, it would truly be jaw dropping if Samsung did get 10 nm functioning and out to market already. I'm incredulous.

Also, lifespan of these chips is going to be very important to analyze. The smaller the process node for flash, the shorter the lifespan. It's already getting dangerously short at 22-24 nm, I am even more incredulous it would be useful all the way at 10 nm without some new physics exploits.

All in all, these chips are probably either 19 nm or 16 nm (a node Intel is aiming for), but highly doubtful 10 nm (unless Samsung has had some unbelievable, revolutionary breakthroughs in the past year).

RE: Don't feed the hype
By Shadowself on 11/16/2012 8:23:47 AM , Rating: 2
All in all, these chips are probably either 19 nm or 16 nm (a node Intel is aiming for), but highly doubtful 10 nm (unless Samsung has had some unbelievable, revolutionary breakthroughs in the past year).
My understanding is that Intel is shooting for the 14 nm node for its main products, down from its current main node of 22 nm.

Intel's NEXT projected node after 14 nm is 10 nm, but that is not planned to go into full production for at least three years.
22 nm: late 2011 through late 2013
14 nm: late 2013 through late 2015
10 nm: late 2015 through late 2017

This assumes that each half of Intel's "Tic-Toc" pattern stays at roughly 12 months, though it seems to be heading to more of a 15 month half step. If the slips keep happening -- which is likely at the 14 & 10 nm steps, then full production on Intel's main lines probably won't happen for the 10 nm step until mid 2016 or later.

RE: Don't feed the hype
By MozeeToby on 11/16/2012 9:09:19 AM , Rating: 2
Less than 11 nm is probably not even theoretically possible. And yes, I know that people have said that about many things over the years when it comes to process shrinks, so hear me out.

Quantum tunneling is the phenomenon where a particle (usually an electron) can disappear from one place and appear in another without crossing the intervening distance. The effect is completely random, you can't control it or shield against it. At around 11nm you reach the point where electrons jump across your gap at a rate that is indistinguishable to having no gap at all.

RE: Don't feed the hype
By geddarkstorm on 11/16/2012 3:33:28 PM , Rating: 2
Oh cool, you're right. They changed from a 16/11 aim to a 14/10 aim just recently.

As the poster below you says though, at around 11 nm quantum mechanics begins to disagree... so how they can get around that, if it is even possible with current styled silicon transistors, is.. going to be fascinating.

RE: Don't feed the hype
By TheJian on 11/18/2012 12:03:01 PM , Rating: 2
Ummm... Let me get this straight. You don't even know what the next process for Intel is, but you're commenting samsung can't do something?

As the OP noted, Intel (and I don't have to think, I KNOW) is shooting for 14nm and has announced a 4.1B investment in that tech. Samsung announced 5B to match ($13B total in Austin fab)...So maybe an extra Billion gets you better tech. Either way, you're guessing about samsung, and didn't even know the actual FACTS about Intel's own ambitions. 14nm 2014 volume production. Might want to get a handle on the known data, before you go dissing the unknown. I can see you've already acknowledged it but still...Not sure why you said recently. It was announced in Feb 2011 if memory serves. What do you call recent? That's almost 2yrs you've ignored the Intel news?
I think they'll get 14nm out by xmas 2013, but volume anything won't come until 2014 IMHO. Intel has their work cut out for them. Samsung isn't global foundries or tsmc :) Their track record with apple shows that. 130mil devices pretty much on time. Apple messed up big time. Good luck with TSMC apple ;) Nvidia will be entering Intel cpu space for the first time, and will do it on SAMSUNG's process, whatever that is (20nm I'd guess, as 10 will be a ways off no matter how accurate that is...mem first, then complicated chips).

If I was samsung I'd cut Apple off 100%, or raise the price 400% not 20%...LOL. Whatever way I had as a legal option I'd take it now before they tool up with TSMC etc. No apple products for 6 months would be a boon to sammy etc and lower apple ecosystem even more. Meanwhile android is marching on at an alarming rate. It would only be good for them even if they took a small hit temporarily. I'm guessing they'd just end up selling 60mil Galaxy S3's rather than 30mil+Apple's phones. I think they'd actually end up making more by cutting them off and selling their own phone/tablet a lot more (no middleman and they own the whole design).

RE: Don't feed the hype
By Jeremy87 on 11/16/12, Rating: 0
We all know Samsung doesn't innovate
By troysavary on 11/16/2012 5:55:06 AM , Rating: 5
This is no accomplishment at all. Now if the had invented the rectangle...

By bug77 on 11/16/2012 6:21:18 AM , Rating: 3
Maybe that company that shall remain unnamed has already pictured the 10nm class flash chips and submitted a patent for them. That's true innovation, you know...

Don't ignore news that don't suit your agenda JM
By corduroygt on 11/15/12, Rating: -1
RE: Don't ignore news that don't suit your agenda JM
By idiot77 on 11/15/2012 10:16:54 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, because what 1 "anonymous source says" is grounds for changing everything everyone thinks about everything.


By ltcommanderdata on 11/15/2012 11:03:33 PM , Rating: 3
The original report of Samsung hiking Apple's chip prices also based on a single source who claimed to be "familiar" with pricing discussions.

The cynic in me thinks that these "analyst" reports are released just to stir the pot and make a quick buck on short-term stock price swings.

By V-Money on 11/16/2012 12:33:53 AM , Rating: 3
Just for even more fun discussion, here is a third article that says that there was indeed a 20% price hike, but that it was already agreed upon by Apple and Samsung at the beginning of the year.

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