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Micron ships its 232-layer 3D NAND flash with more storage, better performance and a smaller package size: Digital Photography Review

Micron has announced its next-generation 232-layer NAND ahead of next week’s Flash Memory Summit in California. The 232-layer NAND includes the industry’s fastest NAND I/O speed of 2.4 GB/s and is the world’s densest NAND. The flash memory triple layer cell (TLC) density is 14.6 Gb/mm2, which is between 35% and 100% greater than the density of competing TLC products.

Micron’s new NAND includes the highest layer count, most bits per square millimeter and fastest I/O speed. It builds upon Micron’s prior 176-layer NAND and the new 232-layer NAND is well-suited for a range of applications, including consumer products, mobile devices and more. The device promises 100% higher write bandwidth, greater than 75% higher read bandwidth, and a 50% increase in transfer rate to 2.4 GB/s (ONFI bus). This performance is delivered in a 28% smaller package. Because the 232-layer NAND is 28% smaller than its predecessor, it’s well-suited to thin and light laptop designs. Likewise, space-constrained and power-conscious mobile devices can use the new NAND. The new 232-layer 3D NAND is shipping on selected Crucial-branded SSDs already, with additional products based on the technology shipping later this year.

Micron writes, ‘This first-to-market 232-layer technology represents Micron’s sixth generation of NAND going into high-volume manufacturing. The breakthrough high layer count, along with CuA (CMOS under array) technology, allows us to deliver huge storage capacity up to 1 terabit per chip on a very small footprint. As a result, the bit density per area on the 232-layer NAND device is over 45% higher than that for the previous 176-layer generation, an amazing increase in capability! The increase in density also enables improved form factor packages, such as the new 11.5mm x 13.5mm package, which is 28% smaller than the packages for previous-generation chips. All this means that more types of devices can now be equipped with large capacity, high-performance storage.’

The 232L NAND comprises a pair of 116-layer decks. It’s the first time Micron has ever produced a single deck over 100 layers. With the greater number of decks and greater density, the 232L NAND is Micron’s first 1Tbit TLC die. This means Micron can produce 2TB chip packages by stacking 16 of its 232L dies.

Building the new 3D NAND flash isn’t as straightforward as simply adding more layers. Micron writes, ‘These devices can be challenging to fabricate, requiring many hundreds of individual processes to take a raw wafer through to completed dies, or chips.’ The most challenging part of the process is stacking layers higher while maintaining uniformity.

‘Micron’s 232-layer NAND is a watershed moment for storage innovation as first proof of the capability to scale 3D NAND to more than 200 layers in production,’ said Scott DeBoer, executive vice president of technology and products at Micron. ‘This groundbreaking technology required extensive innovation, including advanced process capabilities to create high aspect ratio structures, novel materials advancements and leading-edge design enhancements that build on our market-leading 176-layer NAND technology.’

For more information, visit Micron.

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