With its ever expanding set of applications, NAND flash memory is the most rapidly growing non-volatile memory product in the world. NAND can be found in smartphones, tablets, solid state drives (SSDs) and a wide range of other consumer products, including other devices that may or may not be associated with NAND as often. For example, low-density NAND such as NOR flash can be found in set top (STB) boxes, embedded products, home appliances, and other similar products.
Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation's (SMIC) new 38 nanometer (nm) NAND flash process technology is targeted to help fabless customers with high volume and diverse products that require low-density NAND. SMIC also plans to use this new technology to help move towards more advanced manufacturing for 3D NAND and other related parts.
Along the same lines, HGST announced a new line of Ultrastar SSDs this month that will be offered as a half-height, half-length (HH-HL) add-in card. These new drives will be aimed at accelerating database and application access, virtualization and big data analytics. The cards will come with HGST’s CellCare technology to help maintain the performance of the Toshiba multi-level cell (MLC) NAND that is being used to push capacities to a new industry record of 3.2TB.
There has been a lot of talk this year about advancements and improvements in NAND. 2D NAND becomes more unreliable as it shrinks, so manufacturers have begun moving towards 3D NAND for better performance and reliability. Manufacturers are reporting varying statistics, possibly in order to gain an advantage in the market, according to IC Insights, or because the manufacturing process is still imperfect at this early point. With an almost one-year strengthening trend of book-to-bill orders, semiconductor equipment manufacturers are even more motivated to push out new equipment to support the transition. Another important market point is that flash capacity is expected to rise by 4% this year, according to SEMI, as more products rely on NAND and consumers demand more performance and capacity from their devices. Given these market events, we should expect to see a huge outbreak of 3D NAND, in order to keep up, as we move into 2015.