Intel, Micron announce breakthrough in NAND process and technology design

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Intel and Micron Technology have unveiled what they claim to be the industry's smallest, most advanced 20nm process technology for manufacturing NAND flash memory.

Manufactured by IM Flash Technologies, Intel says the new process produces an 8GB multi level cell (mlc) NAND flash device, providing a high capacity, small form factor storage option for saving data on smartphones, tablets and computing solutions such as solid state drives (SSDs). The device measures 118mm2 and, depending on package type, is said to enable a 30 to 40% reduction in board space compared to the companies' existing 25nm 8GB NAND device. A reduction in the flash storage layout provides greater system level efficiency as it enables tablet and smartphone manufacturers to use the extra space for end product improvements such as a bigger battery, larger screen or adding another chip to handle new features. The companies believe shrinking NAND lithography to this technology node to be the most cost effective method for increasing fab output, as it provides approximately 50% more GB capacity from these factories when compared to current technology. The new 20nm process maintains similar performance and endurance as the previous generation 25nm NAND technology. "Our goal is to enable instant, affordable access to the world's information," said Tom Rampone, vice president and general manager, Intel Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group. "Industry leading NAND gives Intel the ability to provide the highest quality and most cost effective solutions to our customers, generation after generation. The Intel-Micron joint venture is a model for the manufacturing industry as we continue to lead the industry in process technology and make quick transitions of our entire fab network to smaller and smaller lithographies." Troy Winslow, director of product marketing, Intel Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group , described the launch as 'another milestone'. "NAND has replaced every day media such as cds and 35mm film, now it's changing computing forever. With this joint venture we are leading the silicon industry thanls to the 20nm process. NAND has a pervasive presense in today's world and we're fuelling that - and driving the industry forward." Kevin Kilbuck, director of marketing, Micron NAND Solutions Group, added: "If you have a smartphone with this power, you effectively have an ssd." The 20nm 8GB device is sampling now and expected to enter mass production in the second half of 2011. At that time, Intel and Micron say they expect to unveil samples of a 16GB device, creating up to 128GBs of capacity in a single solid state storage solution that is smaller than a US postage stamp.