Micron Takes 3D NAND to Towering New Heights— 176 Layers to Be Precise

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In a latest announcement, Micron, which ranks sixth within the world NAND flash trade, unveiled what it terms “the world’s first 176-layer NAND product” properly forward of Samsung Electronics, the trade’s present prime canine. In accordance with Micron, the brand new expertise and its superior structure symbolize a “radical breakthrough” for storage functions.

“Micron’s 176-layer NAND units a brand new bar for the trade, with a layer depend that’s nearly 40% increased than our nearest competitor’s,” stated Scott DeBoer, government VP of expertise and merchandise at Micron.


A Novel Substitute-Gate Structure

As Moore’s Regulation slows down, improvements just like the 176-layer NAND device are necessary to assist the trade sustain with rising information necessities. The expertise is nearly 10 occasions denser than early 3D NAND gadgets, which implies gadgets like smartphones can do and retailer extra whereas turning into extra reasonably priced. It’s additionally nice information for widely-used functions like cloud storage, that are extremely information heavy. 

Not solely is the system denser nevertheless it additionally incorporates the “trade’s highest information switch charge” of 1,600 megatransfers per second (MT/s) on the Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) bus. In accordance with Micron, this function is made potential via progressive circuit design and architectural adjustments.


Micron’s novel CMOS-under-array approach builds the multi-layered cell stack over the chip’s circuitry, permitting extra reminiscence to be squeezed right into a tighter house whereas reducing die dimension. Picture used courtesy of Micron


Right here, Micron has replaced floating-gate with a charge-trap approach (PDF), combining it with its novel CMOS-under-array structure. This construction opens doorways for improved efficiency and density, in accordance with the corporate. This fabrication approach additionally allowed Micron to suit all 176 layers into the identical top; it may beforehand solely match 64. 


The capacitive structure of a traditional gate NAND and a replacement-gate NAND

The capacitive construction of a conventional gate NAND and a replacement-gate NAND. Picture used courtesy of Micron (PDF)

The 176-layer NAND creates a cell-to-cell strategy that Micron says is nearer to an interaction-free construction, utilizing a non-conductive layer of silicon nitride that acts as a NAND storage cell and traps electrical fees. This layer then surrounds the within of the management gate of the cell to behave as an insulator.


30 % Smaller and 35 % Sooner

The system is Micron’s fifth era of 3D NAND and second-generation replacement-gate structure expertise. In accordance with Micron, it’s the most technologically-advanced NAND node on the market since layer depend correlates straight with technological energy.

In contrast with earlier generations of Micron 3D NAND, Micron says its 176-layer NAND improves each learn and write latency by greater than 35 p.c, massively rising utility efficiency. It’s additionally described as having a 30 p.c smaller die dimension than what’s at present obtainable available on the market. 


Micron’s 176-layer achievement

Micron’s 176-layer achievement places the corporate forward of rivals like Samsung and SK Hynix. Picture use courtesy of Micron


With its 176-layer NAND system, Micron intends to serve a variety of storage functions together with cellular storage, car infotainment, information heart solid-state drives (SSDs), and autonomous programs. For information heart SSD functions, the system options improved high quality of service, which is a vital inclusion for information heart SSDs and different data-intensive environments and workloads. 

“We’re deploying this expertise throughout our broad product portfolio to deliver worth in all places NAND is used, concentrating on progress alternatives in 5G, AI, cloud and the clever edge,” stated Sumit Sadana, government VP and chief enterprise officer at Micron. The corporate at present has a big share of the automotive reminiscence market.


A Potential Boon for Competitors

Whereas competitors on this house has considerably slowed down over time, Micron’s announcement may encourage extra competitors and innovation in cell-stacking expertise.

As soon as upon a time, cells have been organized in a single layer. Then alongside got here Samsung with a 24-layer 3D NAND flash in 2013. Vertical stacking quickly grew to become the semiconductor trade normal as the advantages of it—specifically fewer interferences between cells—have been realized. 


The physical differences between current NAND and replacement-gate NAND

The bodily variations between present NAND and replacement-gate NAND; “increased tier stacks imply extra storage capability,” Micron explains. Picture used courtesy of Micron (PDF) 

The final main NAND achievement when it comes to layer quantity was that of SK Hynix in June 2019 when its 128-layer 4D NAND flash was announced. Samsung is already planning to mass-produce 7th generation V-NAND flashes with 176 layers by Q3 2021, and SK Hynix is planning a 176-layer 4D NAND flash throughout the first half of 2021. 

Micron’s achievement places them properly forward when it comes to expertise. At the moment, most companies are nonetheless wrangling with 128-layer 3D NAND, which Micron started producing in April this 12 months.

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