1Q15 is quickly coming to a close and it is hard to believe there are only nine months left in 2015. Keeping pace with the speed of this year is the continual progress of the 3D NAND flash sector. We all know that Samsung led the way as the first company to begin mass production of the new 3D chips. Micron is finally jumping in this month with the announcement of their first 3D samples coming soon. Together with Intel, Micron is planning to offer commercial production of their chips in 2H15 using a newly-expanded NAND fab in Singapore. The new space will allow for gradual expansion depending on market feedback plus opportunities to manufacture other memory and storage products.
Micron and Intel will be targeting enterprise buyers with their 3D NAND-based solid state drives (SSDs). Although the introductory pricing will be high, as with all 3D NAND, the new chips should bring down pricing over time and ideally bring 1TB-4TB SSDs down to the level of consumer-level purchasing. Another goal of 3D technology is reducing the overall dimensions of drives, which would help boost the mobile devices market, an area already expected to experience growth due to increased demand in mobile DRAM. The fab expansions are forecasted to cost around US$4 billion but should give both companies a huge boost in the market.
When it comes to cost versus its current planar predecessor, Micron’s 3D pricing should be on par with 2D NAND. For triple-level cell (TLC), 3D should be priced lower than equivalent planar TLC. Combined with a better performance, durability, and density per square millimeter, this would be a huge win for Micron and Intel. While Samsung is already in the 3D NAND game, Micron could easily take second chair, and, at the same time, pull ahead of its planar competitors, as the other NAND manufacturers have released very little about their plans to produce 3D chips.