Intel and Micron Technology have introduced jointly developed 3D Nand flash memory products that deliver three times the capacity of existing technologies and make possible 10TB solid state drives (SSDs) in a standard 2.5in format.
The two firms said that their 3D Nand flash chips are sampling today, with volume capacities expected in the second half of this year. Products based on the chips are expected to come to market at about the same time.
Giri Giridhar, vice president for non-volatile memory (NVM) technology development at Intel, said that his firm's long-standing partnership with Micron had enabled them to "decisively extend Moore's Law for flash storage and break out of the stagnation in cell densities" that the rest of the industry has been hit by.
The new products are based on floating gate transistor technology, but as with other 3D memory technologies, the memory cells can be stacked vertically instead of requiring a larger and larger two dimensional layout.
In the first generation, the chips can be made of up to 32 layers, enabling Intel and Micron to manufacture 256Gbit components using a multi-level cell (MLC) architecture and 384Gbits using a triple level cell (TLC) design.
Micron's vice president for memory and technology solutions Brian Shirley said that this made possible a 10TB SSD in an industry standard form factor today, and that even USB memory sticks with 3.5TB are possible.
Shirley said that this type of memory will have applications in a broad range of areas, from smartphones and tablets to digital cameras, but also in data centre and network storage appliances.
He added that solid state storage was exhibiting an "inexorable trend" where the cost continues to fall.
"For the formats that matter - mobile devices and the data centre - we think solid state is on the path to take over the key applications," he said.
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