NAND flash memory is de-facto standard non-volatile memory on the market today. But there are many alternatives to it that will become feasible for production in the coming years and which will offer higher performance and better reliability. But emergence of alternatives will not kill NAND flash overnight, but will co-exist with them.
"With regard to post NAND technology alternatives, I remain optimistic about our three-dimensional read/write directories currently under development with our partner, Toshiba. As I have said previously, I expect highly-scaled NAND and post-NAND technology to happily co-exist over the next decade," said Eli Harari, the outgoing chief executive and chairman of SanDisk, one of the world's largest maker of flash products, during his most recent conference-call with financial analysts.
Recently Hynix indicated interest to co-develop (with HP) develop new materials and process integration to deliver memristor-based ReRAM (Resistive Random Access Memory) that has potential to combine performance of DRAM with non-volatility of NAND flash. Elpida is, based on rumours, also interested in ReRAM.
In fact, ReRAM is just one alternative for NAND flash that is discussed today. One thing that is common between all of those technologies is that they are not ready for mass production due to one or another reason. The consequence of this is lack support from controllers, device manufacturers and/or software makers, which further slowdowns their incoming to the market.
Since popularity of non-volatile memory is increasing these days, manufacturers of NAND flash have to boost production capacities and introduce new manufacturing techniques, which should eventually repay for themselves, something that further lowers market potential for alternative technologies.
"We now expect NAND to scale down to below 20nm in the next few years. This will likely be achieved with existing lithography tools running in existing and new advanced NAND fab and this bodes well for our Yokkaichi fab as they become more fully depreciated in the coming years. As we push the roadmap even further, extreme ultraviolet, EUV lithography tools will become indispensable and I expect the transition to EUV to be spread over a number of years and to be quite challenging for the industry," added Mr. Harari.