SanDisk and its technology partner Toshiba are readying their own 3D Nand flash chips, claimed to be the first to allow for stacking of memory cells in 48 layers to provide greater density and thus higher capacity storage devices.
Announced today, SanDisk said that pilot production of the new 3D Nand chips will commence as planned in the second half of 2015, with volume commercial production targeted for 2016.
SanDisk and Toshiba announced in 2014 that the two were teaming up to jointly develop 3D Nand products, which would be manufactured by Toshiba in Japan.
SanDisk executive vice president for memory technology Dr Siva Sivaram explained that this is the second generation of 3D Nand technology from the two firms, but that "we utilised our first generation 3D Nand technology as a learning vehicle, enabling us to develop our commercial second generation 3D Nand, which we believe will deliver compelling storage solutions for our customers".
The move also follows the announcement this week by Intel and Micron of their jointly developed 3D Nand products, which are sampling today with volume shipments expected in the second half of this year.
However, there are differences between the technologies, with SanDisk and Toshiba supporting up to 48 layers on a chip while Intel and Micron currently support 32.
SanDisk refers to its technology as Bit-Cost Scalable (BiCS) Nand and uses a charge trap technique to store individual bits, whereas Intel and Micron have opted for a variation on the standard floating gate transistor technology.
Toshiba disclosed that the BiCS cell structure delivers a 2-bit-per-cell 128Gbit device, while Intel and Micron claimed that their technology can deliver 256Gbit components at 2 bits per cell, and 384Gbit using 3 bits per cell.
Whatever the respective merits of the technologies, SanDisk and Toshiba are targeting similar market segments to Intel and Micron, saying that they expect their products will be used in a broad range of solutions from removable products such as USB memory sticks to enterprise solid state drives (SSDs).
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