Micron Promises to Transit Flash to to 20nm-Class Process Technology in 2010

Micron and Intel Prepare Serious Flash Transition Next Year

by Anton Shilov
12/23/2009 | 04:59 PM

Micron Technology this week confirmed plans to transit flash manufacturing to 20nm-class manufacturing process (2xnm) and indicated that the transition, which will end during calendar 2010, will be a very significant for the company.

 

“A new story for us in 2010 at this point is the transition [to] 2xnm node, which, [as] we have been saying for some time, will occur throughout the year. […] It is a pretty significant shrink. We are not in position to say exactly how big that is yet, but we will be sampling and you will have the access to that information, but it is pretty significant shrink and it should drive some pretty significant bit growth,” said Mark Durcan, president and chief operating officer of Micron Technology, during a quarterly conference call with financial analysts.

Micron’s fiscal year 2010 ends in late September, 2010, it is highly likely that the company will start sampling of its 20nm-class flash devices sometime in early calendar 2010.

Even though Micron and its partner Intel Corp. yet have to confirm details of their next-generation process technologies and flash architecture, there are high chances that the 2xnm chips from IM Flash (a joint-venture between Intel and Micron) will feature 3-bit-per-cell (3bpc) technology, which the companies demonstrated using 34nm fabrication process earlier this year. Production technology shrink along with higher number of bits per cell will rather dramatically increase NAND flash bit growth and decrease cost per bit. Still, at this point no peculiarities are available.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2010 (which ended December 3, 2009), the company had net income attributable to Micron shareholders of $204 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, on net sales of $1.74 billion. These results compare to a loss of $100 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, on net sales of $1.3 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 and a loss of $718 million, or $0.93 per diluted share, on net sales of $1.4 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

Revenue from sales of DRAM products increased 50% in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter due to a 25% increase in sales volume and a 21% increase in average selling prices. Revenue from sales of NAND flash products increased 21 percent in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter due to a 16 percent increase in sales volume and a five percent increase in average selling prices.

The company’s gross margin on sales of memory products improved from 12% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 to 27% in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 due primarily to the increases in average selling prices.