New NAND Flash Technologies
X-bit labs: Do you plan to start using three-bits-per-cell (3bpc) NAND flash memory in your solid-state drives this year?
Joel Hagberg: Three-bits-per-cell is an interesting technology in which we are deeply involved. Our engineers are always innovating and researching future storage technologies. At this time, we have nothing specific to announce, but this is one of the future NAND flash technologies that look promising.
X-bit labs: Well, your manufacturing partner, SanDisk Corp., openly said that TLC/3bpc is viable for consumer SSDs, SandForce has created SF-2000 controller that supports TLC/3bpc NAND flash made by Toshiba. So, what are your expectations? Will you be ready with consumer SSDs featuring the 3bpc NAND this year or early next, or, maybe this fiscal year?Joel Hagberg: As I commented above, clearly there are a range of new technologies that look promising for future designs but we do not comment on future product designs and do not have any SSD announcements to make at this time.
X-bit labs: Do you intend to use two-bits-per-cell (2bpc) MLC NAND flash memory made using 10nm-class [19nm, to be precise] process technology inside your SSDs in 2012?
Joel Hagberg: Our engineers are always innovating and researching future storage technologies. We have nothing to announce at this time regarding future NAND flash technology in SSDs.
X-bit labs: So, what are the primary applications for the MLC NAND flash you make using 19nm fabrication process?
Joel Hagberg: The primary application for our MLC NAND is the full range of consumer products enabled by NAND today, including USB Flash Memory Sticks, MP3 players, SmartPhones, Tablets, eReaders and SSDs. We announced our new range of 19nm based SSDs, the THNSNF-series on June 4, 2012; you can the full news here.
X-bit labs: Do you expect new types of non-volatile memory like memristors, PRAM, MRAM, etc., to become commercially viable within the next three to four years?
Joel Hagberg: Toshiba does not provide product forecasts. Industry analyst firms such as Gartner and IDC are better sources for answering this question.
X-bit labs: Maybe you can name a technology or two that you are working on now which may eventually become a new type of non-volatile memory? Perhaps, in longer term...
Joel Hagberg: There are a number of new memory technologies that Toshiba is working on for future storage applications. There are new NAND lithography steps that look promising beyond 19nm but we expect these to remain in the teens for the next two years. Toshiba is also investigating three-dimensional storage as a potential successor to NAND Flash Technology and we expect to have prototype samples in 2013. MRAM also looks like it may have some interesting applications in the coming years as well.