Micron Technology has begun sampling next-generation, 16-nanometer (nm) process technology, resulting in the industry's smallest 128-gigabit (Gb) multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory chips, according to the company.
The 16nm node is the leading flash process technology as well as the most advanced processing node for any sampling semiconductor.
Dee Robinson, IHS memory analyst, said the majority of industry production is on 20-21nm process technology and some chipmakers are beginning to produce some wafers on 19nm. “After that will come devices built on 16-14nm process technology. I don’t know of another supplier that is mass producing 16nm,” she said.
Micron said use of 16nm process technology solidifies the company's leadership position in storage technology development, delivering on the company's plans to provide advanced semiconductor solutions.
Micron's 128Gb MLC NAND flash memory chips are used in solid-state drives in consumer electronics equipment, removable storage applications such as USB drives as well as flash memory cards, tablets, ultrathin devices, mobile handsets and data center cloud storage.
Micron’s new 128Gb NAND flash memory provides the greatest number of bits per square millimeter and lowest cost of any MLC device in existence, according to the company. In fact, the new technology could create nearly 6 terabytes of storage on a single wafer.
"Our customers continually ask for higher capacities in smaller form factors, and this next-generation process node allows Micron to lead the market in meeting those demands." said Glen Hawk, vice president of Micron's NAND Solutions Group.
Micron, based in Boise, Idaho, is sampling the 16nm, 128Gb MLC NAND with select partners now and plans to be in full production by the fourth quarter of this year.
The chipmaker is also developing a new line of solid-state drives (SSD) based on these devices and expects to ship SSDs with 16nm flash in 2014.
The significance of Micron’s use of 16nm will depend on “how quickly it goes into mass production, how it performs, and how it’s received by customers,” said Robinson.
She said with more advanced nodes, “performance degrades quite a bit so I would expect that the initial market for this product will be the card and flash drive market, which is declining.”