Samsung announces 3D vertical NAND flash production

The tech giant has began mass production of "the industry's first" three-dimensional vertical NAND flash memory chips.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Samsung has begun mass producing 3D vertical NAND (V-NAND) flash memory after 10 years of research and development.

In a blog post Tuesday, the South Korean firm said that the V-NAND will be used widely in both consumer electronics and enterprise applications -- including NAND storage and solid state drives (SSDs).

Samsung's V-NAND includes 128gb density within a single chip through the vertical scaling and vertical cell structure of the product. The firm says that by utilizing 3D Charge Trap Flash (CTF) technology and vertical interconnect process technology to link the 3D cell array, V-NAND can provide over twice the scaling capabilities of 20nm planar, standard NAND flash products.

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Traditional flash memory is based on two-dimensional structures. However, as technology developed and was able to go from 10nm and beyond, scaling limits have become an issue, as increasing nanometer circuit line width can cause a trade-off in reliability, as well as development time and overall costs.

Instead of using a planar structure, Samsung's product has vertically stacked planar cell layers. The 3D NAND memory architecture is described as such:

Samsung's CTF-based NAND flash architecture, an electric charge is temporarily placed in a holding chamber of the non-conductive layer of flash that is composed of silicon nitride (SiN), instead of using a floating gate to prevent interference between neighboring cells.

With the new vertical structure, Samsung can enable higher density NAND flash memory products by increasing the 3D cell layers without having to continue planar scaling, which has become incredibly difficult to achieve.

By making the CTF layer 3D, the company says both reliability and speed of the flash memory has improved. The product's write performance was doubled in comparison to standard 10nm NAND flash memory, whereas the company says the reliability at least doubled -- but in some cases became up to ten times more reliable than products on the market.

Jeong-Hyuk Choi, senior vice president of flash product & technology at Samsung commented:

"The new 3D V-NAND flash technology is the result of our employees' years of efforts to push beyond conventional ways of thinking and pursue much more innovative approaches in overcoming limitations in the design of memory semiconductor technology. Following the world’s first mass production of 3D Vertical NAND, we will continue to introduce 3D V-NAND products with improved performance and higher density, which will contribute to further growth of the global memory industry."

According to research firm IHS iSuppli, the global NAND flash memory market is expected to generate revenue of approximately $30.8 billion by the end of 2016.

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