Samsung 3D flash tech set to spur next-gen smartphone, tablet design
Samsung has debuted the industry’s first 3D vertical NAND flash memory architecture. Just as Intel has pushed processor technology with its 3D tri-gate architecture first seen on its ‘Ivy Bridge’ designs, Samsung’s engineers have taken a vertical to boost performance applying a similar principle to the way it designs its next-generation NAND flash designs. According to Samsung, its new design overcomes inherent technical challenges that arise when moving to 10nm processes including cell-to-cell interference while breaking through scaling limitations.
Intel delivers next-gen SSD using 20nm NAND flash fab process
Intel is now shipping its first SSDs based on its new 20nm NAND Flash memory fabrication process. Although shifting to the new process delivers manufacturing, power efficiencies, and the potential to ramp up the capacity of its SSDs, the first 335-series drive only comes in at 240GB size with no performance boost. It does, however, signal the first time Intel has been able to successfully apply its HiK/metal gate stack used in its CPU designs to NAND production.
Industry-wide shortage could be iDevice driven
[Updated with correction] The CEO of OCZ Technology Group, a solid state drive manufacturer, announced last week that the company would not be able to produce enough of its products to meet industry demand. As EE Times reports, the shortage in NAND components -- the chips that allow for smartphones and mobile devices to have high-density, low-power internal memory -- is said to be industry-wide and an outgrowth of the increasing demand for NAND supplies. The company believes that the supply situation will resolve itself, but it is moving to reorganize its production processes to account for supply considerations.
Apple may acquire Anobit in $500 million deal
Apple is rumored to be in talks to buy an Israeli startup called Anobit in deal said to be valued up to $500 million. The fabless semiconductor company has developed a flash memory controller technology that makes cheap non-volatile memory work as well as more expensive memory. The company claims to be able to make 3-bit multi-level cell MLC NAND flash, which typically has a shorter working life, last as long as 2-bit MLC, and 2-bit MLC function as long as single-level cell flash.
Samsung makes first DDR 2.0 NAND flash chips
Samsung has announced that it has developed the world’s first toggle Double Data Rate 2.0 64-gigabit MLC NAND flash memory chips. Samsung has been able to achieve the higher density by fabricating the new chips on a 20nm process. They have a 400 megabits bandwidth are said to 10 times faster than the Single Data Rate NAND flash memory used in most smartphones and tablets in use today.
SSDs for enterprise, desktop, laptop
A leaked roadmap for Intel's of solid-state drives indicates the company is planning five additions to its SSD lines this year. According to the leak, Intel will establish a new high-end line with the "Ramsdale" SSD 720 Series, and the "Lyndonville" SSD 710 Series. Two new lines, the 20GB "Larsen Creek" and 40GB/80GB "Paint Creek," appear to be designed for high-performance caching functions such as improving boot time. According to the leaked roadmap, Intel will also extend the SSD 510 line with the "Cherryville" SSD 520 Series.
Tech said to be highest density on one chip
Toshiba has announced that it has begun mass production of NAND flash components constructed using 24 nanometer technology. The manufacturing process is said to be used for 2 bit-per-cell 64-gigabit components, which are claimed to reach the highest density (8GB) on a single chip.
Components could double storage on current devices
Toshiba on Monday introduced a new 64GB embedded NAND flash memory module, claimed to be the highest capacity in the industry. The component combines a dedicated controller and sixteen 32Gbit chips manufactured using the company's 32nm technology. Chip thinning and layering methods help bring the chip thickness down to just 30 micrometers.
Flash memory investigation
The US International Trade Commission has reportedly begun an investigation focusing on several companies that produce or purchase NAND flash components, including Samsung, RIM, Apple and others, according to Barron's. BTG International has accused Samsung of violating several patents involving "MLC" type flash memory.
New iPhone 3GS memory
Two more companies are set to join the ranks supplying memory for the iPhone 3GS, industry sources claim. Hynix's 41nm NAND flash is said to have recently passed 3GS validation, paving the way for future deliveries. Details of a Micron agreement have also allegedly emerged, pointing to volume shipments for Apple beginning in August. Unlike Hynix, Micron has 34nm chips ready to go, the sources say.
Apple $500M memory order
Apple has paid a large sum of cash to Toshiba in order to acquire flash memory, according to company executives. Speaking during Tuesday's Q3 conference call, COO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer acknowledged a $500 million prepayment to Toshiba, meant to secure a long-term supply of NAND flash for portable products. Cook notes that flash is instrumental to Apple, given its use in the iPhone and every iPod model except for the Classic.
32GB iPhones guaranteed?
Apple's recent order of 100 million NAND chips from Samsung included 16Gb memory, claims an analyst from Lazard Capital Markets. The order was initially thought to have only 8Gb chips, the equivalent of 1GB each in terms of storage. With more 16Gb (2GB) memory however, Apple should be in a position to release 32GB iPhones, a move widely anticipated for this summer.
iPhone flash memory orders
Apple's preparations for the next-generation iPhone line is constraining worldwide supplies for leading flash memory manufacturers and may increase prices. A new analyst report says that Apple’s (unannounced) refresh of iPhones is putting increased pressure on flash memory manufacturers managing dwindling inventory. According to Cult of Mac, ThinkEquity analyst Vijay Rakesh is telling clients that Apple has begun placing orders for memory for a yet unannounced upgrade to the current iPhone 3G and the rumored "iPhone Nano" or a similar device. Most recently RBC analyst Mark Abramsky claimed that a $99 iPhone would appear later this summer, but that the device would not be a rumored iPhone nano, but instead a pared-down regular iPhone.
43nm SLC chips announced
Toshiba has announced higher density, faster memory chips in a new lineup of 43nm single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory, featuring 2GB, 4GB and 8GB individual chips. The 43 nanometer process allows Toshiba to deliver double the density of its previous 56nm process, while also delivering SLC speeds, which are approximately 2.5x faster than the more common, denser but historically slower MLC (Multi-Level Cell) memory.
No iPod impact in Taiwan?
Apple's newest iPods are unlikely to have much impact in Taiwan, despite the popularity of the products around the world, an industry publication observes. DigiTimes notes that the prices of NAND memory, and LCD screens between 2.8 and 3.5 inches, have allowed local companies such as T.sonic and Ergotech to release extremely cheap 8GB media players, costing between $3,000 and $3,500 NT ($94 and $109 US). Some generic "white-box" players may even cost as little as $2,500 NT, or $78 US.
iPhone production slashed?
Apple has slashed the number of iPhones it plans to build before the end of the year, claims the analyst group Pacific Crest. While it had been expected that some 18 million phones would be made, Crest cites "supply chain channel checks" which indicate that Apple is ordering only 14 to 15 million units. If accurate, the move is not expected to hurt Apple, but rather its suppliers.
Toshiba to buy SanDisk?
Earlier this month, a report had Samsung interested in buying portable flash memory maker SanDisk, and today’s rumors have another suitor considering making a bid for the company. A newswire reports Toshiba is the latest interested party, and is only considering a bid in order to prevent competitor Samsung from taking over SanDisk, thus creating a near monopoly as the sole supplier of NAND flash memory devices, components and subsystems.
8GB Eee supply problems
The 8G (8GB) version of ASUS' popular Eee PC may have limited availability for the foreseeable future, say executives with the company. The management notes that as the supply of SLC (single-level cell) NAND memory is currently tight, it has temporarily cut off shipments of the 8G Eee to Taiwan. President Jerry Shen comments that this is compounded by a shortage of batteries, which may actually be a greater threat to ASUS.
Flash market and Macworld
The health of the NAND flash market is now heavily dependent on this month's Macworld Expo, anonymous industry sources say. Demand for flash in North America and Europe is said to be very weak at the moment, foremost because the lucrative Christmas season is over, but also because Apple in particular -- one of the largest memory consumers in the world -- is simply requesting less than it has in recent times. NAND manufacturers are thus hoping that Apple will announce new products at Macworld, restoring demand to the market.
Samsung, Toshiba NAND
Samsung and Toshiba have announced an unusual deal connecting the companies' memory technology. Through a new agreement, Samsung will be able to produce and sell memory using Toshiba's LBA-NAND name and specifications, while Toshiba will in turn gain the rights to Samsung's OneNAND. Device builders will thus be able to turn to either company for either memory format. Although normally a move not conducive to profit, the deal should be mutually beneficial in the unique conditions of the NAND market, which recently recovered from a crippling shortage.
Second-gen iPhone delay?
While only just having been confirmed as a 2008 release, the second-generation iPhone may already have experienced its first delay, according to an analyst from Friedman Billings Ramsey & Company. Mehdi Hosseini claims that among information gathered in "recent checks," it was learned that the next iPhone may have originally been planned for launch in March or April, but is now anticipated for mid to late summer. As a result, Hosseini expects demand for NAND memory to drop in the first half of 2008, despite opposite predictions by Samsung.