Intel Corp. and Micron Technology on Thursday said that they had developed 20nm process technology for manufacturing NAND flash memory. The new 20nm process enables low-cost 8GB multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash devices.
The 20nm process technology for NAND flash memory developed by IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), Intel and Micron's NAND flash joint venture, is the first in the industry. While other companies talk about 20nm-class fabrication process, those technologies have elements that are 24nm, 25nm, 26nm or even 27nm large. Shrinking NAND lithography to this technology node is the most cost-effective method for increasing fab output, as it provides approximately 50% more gigabyte capacity from these factories when compared to current technology.
IMFT said that the new 20nm process maintains similar performance and endurance as the previous generation 25nm NAND technology, which means that the new flash chips are still slower and less reliable compared to NAND flash memory chips made using 30nm-class process technologies.
Comparison of two 32Gb 34nm die versus one 64Gb on 25nm and 20nm process from IMFT
"Our goal is to enable instant, affordable access to the world's information. 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," said Tom Rampone, vice president and general manager of Intel non-volatile memory solutions group.
The new 20nm 8GB (64Gb) device measures just 118mm2 and enables a 30% to 40% reduction in board space (depending on package type) 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 20nm, 8GB device is sampling now and expected to enter mass production in the second half of 2011. At that time, Intel and Micron also 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 U.S. postage stamp.