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Intel Corp. and Micron Technology on Tuesday said they had successfully completed development of 3-bits-per-cell (3bpc) NAND flash memory. The devices based on the 3bpc technology will be 32Gb (4GB) multi-level cell (MLC) flash memory chips made using 34nm process technology. The two companies also promised to start making flash using sub-30nm fabrication process later this year.

“The move to 3bpc is yet another proof point to the remarkable progress Intel and Micron have made in 34nm NAND development. This milestone sets the stage for continued silicon leadership on 2xnm process that will help decrease costs and increase the capabilities of our NAND solutions for our customers,” said Randy Wilhelm, Intel vice president and general manager of Intel NAND solutions group.

Designed and manufactured by IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), the flash joint venture between Intel and Micron, the new 3bpc NAND technology produces the industry’s smallest and most cost-effective 32Gb chip that is currently available on the market. The 32Gb 3bpc NAND chip is 126mm² in size.

Earlier this year SanDisk and Toshiba unveiled 64Gb/8GB MLC NAND flash device with 4-bits-per-cell technology. The two companies used 43nm fabrication process to make the chips, therefore, it is unclear whether the flash devices unveiled by Intel and Micron are more cost-effective than the flash devices unveiled this February by SanDisk and Toshiba.

Micron is currently sampling the 32Gb/4GB NAND chips and will mass produce it in the fourth quarter of 2009. With the two companies continuing to focus on the next process shrink, 3bpc NAND technology is an important piece of their product strategy and is an effective approach in serving key market segments.

“We see 3bpc NAND technology as an important piece of our roadmap. We also continue to move forward on further shrinks in NAND that will provide our customers with a world-leading portfolio of products for many years to come. Today’s announcement further highlights that Micron and Intel have made great strides in 34nm NAND, and we look forward to introducing our 2xnm technology later this year,” said Brian Shirley, vice president of Micron’s memory group.

Tags: Intel, Micron, Flash, 34nm

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