Samsung unveils 20nm-class Nand chips

The flash memory chips perform 30 percent better than the 30nm-class predecessors launched last year, according to the South Korean manufacturer

Samsung Electronics has started shipping 20nm-class Nand flash memory chips that can be used in SD memory cards and devices with embedded memory, such as smartphones.

The smaller-sized chips should mean production costs per chip will fall or that more capacity can be provided in the same amount of space, the South Korean company said in its announcement on Monday.

The flash memory chips are based on 32Gb multi-level cell (MLC) Nand, and samples have started shipping to customers, Samsung said. It aims to go into volume production later this year. Memory cards based on its 20nm chips will be available in densities of 4GB to 64GB.

"In just one year after initiating 30nm-class Nand production, Samsung has made available the next-generation node 20nm-class Nand," said Samsung's memory division president Soo-In Cho in a Monday statement.

Samsung said the write performance of an SD card of 8GB or greater based on its 20nm-class chips would be 30 percent higher than for the 30nm-class chip, meaning its write speed is 10MB/s and the read speed 20MB/s. It said that the reliability of the 20nm product will match that of the 30nm.

The new product sees Samsung take a lead over its two main competitors, IM Flash Technologies (IMFT) — a joint venture between Micron Technology and Intel — and Toshiba. Toshiba is moving to a sub-30nm process, but details of this are yet to emerge. IMFT announced it had moved to a 25nm process for its memory chips in February.

The announcement is not Samsung's only new memory product this year. In March, Samsung began shipping samples of a 32GB memory module for server systems, based on a 40nm manufacturing process. Samsung first began producing 40nm-class DRAM memory in July, and said at the time it aimed for a 30nm process in the second half of 2010.

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