Intel, Micron shrink Nand flash to 25nm

The 25nm manufacturing process will be used to increase storage capacity in SSDs and consumer devices
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor on

Intel and Micron have announced what they say is the industry's first 25nm semiconductor technology, a manufacturing process they plan to use for Nand memory for solid-state drives and consumer products such as smartphones and media players.

The companies said on Monday that their flash joint venture, IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), has begun sampling a Nand flash part based on the 25nm production process. The process allowed them to put 8GB of storage into a single Nand component measuring 167mm2.

"[The 25nm device is] small enough to fit through the hole in the middle of a compact disc, yet packs more than 10 times the data capacity of that CD," Intel and Micron said in a statement. A standard CD holds 700MB of data.

Manufacturers can stack several of the 25nm Nand dies inside a single industry-standard unit called a 'thin small-outline package' to increase storage capacity, Intel and Micron said. The Nand flash device's size also allows manufacturers to reduce the number of chips needed, compared with previous generations.

For example, a 256GB SSD can be designed with 32 of the 25nm devices, versus 64 of IMFT's previous generation of devices. Intel and Micron formed IMFT in 2006, and began their work with a 50nm process, followed by a 34nm process in 2008.

The 25nm 8GB device is planned for mass production in the second quarter of 2010, the companies said.

Nand flash memory retains stored data even when the power is turned off, making it suitable for devices such as SSDs. At a technical briefing at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco in September, an Intel researcher said mass corporate take-up of SSDs is imminent due to adoption of the cloud model of IT services. Intel said at the time that the use of networked software and services is creating a market for clients with low storage capacities, a need that can be filled in a cost-effective way by SSDs.

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