The migration to three-dimensional structures for flash memory has helped Micron Technology Inc.keep up with Moore's law, the company says. Speaking to EETimes, Kevin Kilbuck, Micron’s director of NAND Strategic Planning, said that the company's first generation is 32 layers in the vertical direction while relaxing the x-y design rules back several generations."
Prior to going 3D, Micron could only shrink each new generation in its x-y dimensions, but they hit the wall at 20-nanometers, only able to shrink in one direction - either x or y - at the 16-nanometer node. But by going 3D, Micron has been able to keep increasing chip capacity per package while relaxing the x-y scaling rules. Relaxing the x-y design rules improves the performance and reliability compared with sub-20nm planar NAND.
Going 3D solved helped Micron solve interference issues that appeared towards reaching the x-y scaling limit. In addition, it helped Micron keep the packages in the 1.0-to-1.4 millimeter range with the same pinout.
In its fabs in Singapore and Lehi, Utah (half-owned by Intel) Micron's first generation 3D NAND chips will be 32- and 48-gigabytes. With up to 16 layers in a single package super high density solid-state drives can be made for servers and data centers. For the future, Micron plans 2-terabyte 3D NAND packages, allowing an SSD using 16 of them to pack up to 32-terabytes.
Micron's first solution is the first 3D NAND technology built on a floating gate cell and enables monolithic MLC and TLC die. Unlike other approaches, Micron's first-generation 3D NAND is architected to achieve better cost efficiencies than planar NAND, Kilbuck added.
Micron also has its 3D XPoint chips coming online in 2016. Co-developed with Intel, 3D XPoint essentially uses a material (memristors, Re-RAMs) that increases its resistance whenever current through it in one direction, and reduces its resistance when current flows the opposite direction.
Micron promised to be sampling to major customers its ultra-high-density 3D XPoint chips in 2016.
High performance solid-state drives will be the first beneficiaries, according to Kilbuck.