Micron, which has just completed the acquisition of Inotera Memories last week announced on December 15 that it will start mass production of 3D NAND flash memory by the end of 2016. The decision comes after the company’s 3D NAND memory production capacity exceeded that of 2D counterparts. Micron has successfully kept the costs of its first-generation 3D NAND in line with company expectations and its second-generation 64-layer 3D NAND is ready for ramp-up.
According to foreign media, CFO of Micron Ernie Maddock said at the Barclays Technology Conference on December 15 that the company had achieved a bit crossover between 2D and 3D NAND flash memory output. In other words, the total capacity of 3D NAND memory produced by Micron has exceeded that of 2D counterparts.
Ernie Maddock added that, the cost reduction in the first-generation 3D NAND has met the company’s expectations. In its product roadmap unveiled in the first half of 2016, Micron claimed the cost of its 3D NAND architecture would be at least 20% lower than 2D NAND. Now that Micron has reduced the cost of 3D NAND to 20% – 25% lower compared to 2D NAND, the result will facilitate the company’s mass production at its Fab 10X in Singapore.
Many SSDs nowadays have adopted 3D NAND flash memory due to its superiority in performance, capacity, and life span over 2D counterparts. In addition, 3D NAND can help vendors reduce production costs and increase production capacity. For example, Micron’s 2D NAND made using 16nm process technology only provide a capacity of 128Gb in both MLC and TLC configurations, whereas the company’s 3D MLC and TLC NAND can store up to 256Gb and 384Gb of data respectively.
Currently, Samsung has taken the lead in 3D NAND production, followed by Toshiba, Sandisk, and SK Hynix. Intel and Micron have lagged behind these rivals. However, given the capacity advantage of 3D NAND, it is only a matter of time before 3D NAND output surpasses 2D NAND output, once 3D NAND enters mass production.
Image: Micron Website