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3D NAND set to dominate SSDs, kill off traditional flash

Lucas Mearian | Dec. 22, 2016
Manufacturers are ramping up production of new 64-layer 3D NAND

In 2015, SanDisk and technology partner Toshiba announced they were manufacturing the world's first 48-layer 3D NAND product using BiCS (Bit-Cost Scalable) technology. That BiCS NAND flash chip offered 256Gbit (32GB) of capacity and stored 3-bits-per-cell (transistor). The latest iteration of the technology is called BiCS3. According to Toshiba, the new 64-layer 3D NAND flash chips have 40% more potential capacity over the previous BiCS2 technology.

SanDisk 3D NAND 

SanDisk and Toshiba announced last year they are manufacturing 256Gbit (32GB), 3-bit-per-cell (X3) 48-layer, 3D NAND flash chips that offer twice the capacity of the next densest memory. They called their 3D NAND technology BiCS, short for Bit Cost Scaling.

Micron has also stated it will begin mass production of its 64-layer, 3D NAND flash chips by the end of this year.

Overall, the SSD market will enjoy soaring demand next year and will represent 40% of all NAND flash consumption, DRAMeXchange's report stated.

"Thus, SSDs will represent the fastest growing end-use market for NAND Flash in 2017," DRAMeXchange said.

At the same time, smartphone shipments are slowing -- as are tablet shipments. So, the trend to increase memory capacity per device has become the main driver for mobile NAND flash products versus the sheer number of SSDs shipped.

Since 128GB, NAND flash SSDs account for the largest share of iPhone 7 shipments, other smartphone brands have also equipped their devices with lowerquality but high-capacity embedded MultiMediaCards (eMMCs), or next-generation Universal Flash Storage (UFS) memory in order to stay competitive.

Additionally, more than half of all notebooks shipped worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2017 will carry SSDs, according to DRAMeXchange. In the enterprise-grade SSD market, demand continues to rise due to strong growth in the data center and server markets.


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