updated 09:30 am EST, Mon November 24, 2008
Intel 34nm 32Gb chip Ships
Intel and its memory making partner Micron today said they have begun mass producing their promised first 34nm NAND flash memory. The smaller manufacturing process lets the two firms build individual chip layers with 32 gigabits (4GB) of data in a standard package and in large batches using regular 300mm wafers. The technology is small enough to allow eight cores per layer and would allow a two-layer stack to carry as much as 64GB without needing entirely separate chips.
The company explicitly targets the breakthrough at portable electronics, including cellphones, MP3 players and similar devices where space for memory is at a premium. It should also produce a "dramatic" increase in the capacity of solid-state drives by combining multiple discrete chips.
Neither Intel nor Micron says when the 34nm memory should reach shipping products, though they add that they are "ahead of schedule" with production. The timing of the production puts most of those devices into an early 2009 release window.
Intel's release puts the company into direct competition with Toshiba, which expects to ship a 32GB module that will compete with Intel's in a similar timeframe. The relative size and cost of the two chips is unavailable, though Toshiba's part is made using a less dense 43nm process that is potentially larger.
Companies such as Apple are believed to be waiting on chips like these to upgrade the storage of the iPhone and iPod touch; the former only has space for one memory chip in its current design and so needs the new technology to move to 32GB of space.