Ars Technica has posted information on Samsung’s new 3D Vertical NAND technology, and it promises to boost densities for SSDs and other similar devices dramatically. Samsung announced last night that they have begun mass production of the devices.

Using up to 24 vertical NAND elements, Samsung predicts that they will be able to scale up to 1Tb per individual NAND chip. It’s not clear exactly how large the initial chips will be, but with conventional 19nm NAND currently shipping in 128Gb capacities we’d expect at least two to four times as much storage per chip. That means using current SSD standards of eight channels of NAND we’d see capacities for “commodity” SSDs move from 128GB to 256GB or even 512GB, and with four NAND die per package we could easily hit 2TB SSDs. The days of needing a secondary storage device with a hard drive could be quickly coming to a close depending on the timing and pricing.

There’s a second technology also coming into play with V-NAND that addresses concerns with reliability and longevity of NAND. Rather than storing charge in a set of floating gate transistors, with voltage levels corresponding to either 0/1 (SLC), 00/01/10/11 (MLC), or 000/001/010/011/100/101/110/111 (TLC), V-NAND will use Charge Trap Flash (CTF). Samsung states, “With Samsung's CTF-based NAND flash architecture, an electric charge is temporarily placed in a holding chamber of the non-conductive layer of flash that is composed of silicon nitride (SiN), instead of using a floating gate to prevent interference between neighboring cells.” Samsung claims that at a minimum CTF will have at least 2x the lifespan of floating gate NAND, and potentially as much as a 10x increase. Write performance is also doubled relative to conventional 10nm-class floating gate NAND.

Sadly, there’s no specific word on availability or pricing right now, and historically with V-NAND just entering mass production we’re likely a year or more away from production SSDs using the technology. Samsung is obviously a major player in both the NAND and SSD markets, so Samsung SSDs using V-NAND are inevitable, but testing and validation will certainly require some time. Hopefully this all comes sooner rather than later, though, as the potential to ditch conventional storage and get improved performance and reliability compared to current NAND seems like the perfect storm needed to end our reliance on slow, spinning platters.

Source: Ars Technica



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  • Jaybus - Thursday, August 08, 2013 - link

    Samsung has several technologies in the development phase. 3D will help, but there are also some more disruptive technologies in the pipeline. For one thing, Samsung has a history of licensing RAM technology from smaller companies such as Symetrix, from where they got the FeRAM technology they are implementing in small very low power MCUs. Symetric also has a memristor type nonvolatile called CeRAM "Correlated Electron RAM" that looks very promising. Unlike other phase-change efforts, CeRAM does not involve inducing transition metal filaments between electrodes, so does not require electroforming and uses a homogenous material. It will be cheap and easy to produce. The advantage is that endurance is orders of magnitude greater than flash, on current is lower, and Set/Reset is far faster (close to DRAM rates). The phase change itself takes only femtoseconds. I think first testing runs are 64M chips at the 22 nm node and already being made. Reply
  • lilmoe - Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - link

    Guess they were fully functional when announced....
  • mmonnin03 - Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - link

    Only a fool believes new process nodes are actually cheaper to produce than the last. To process shrink you need more Photolithography tools and newer/more expensive ones at that. Each process shrink requires and and more layers printed on immersion (193 wet) and less on 193 dry, 248 and i-line tools. New NXT 193 immersion tools go for like $50mil+ a pop and a fab needs several to run latest gen products.

    Maybe at a per Gb level prices will drop but per wafer absolutely not. Looking at per Gb cost doesn't do the cost to end consumers justice as chip density goes up but the chip's Gb in SSDs also go up. So the sq/mm of a wafer used in an SSD will stay much more steady (8 die in a chip and 8 chips on the circuit board) all the while per wafer cost isn't dropping.

    Just like Samsung likes to market '10nm class' hoping some clueless people think it's half pitch is actually 10nm Samsung also does the same thing with 'mass production.' News releases like this are well, well ahead of the chips making it into products, lease of all SSDs. SSDs probably have some of the higher stringent qualifications and qualification is many months after wafer starts begin in a fab.

    Initial measurements show this being like 20-30% die size reduction. If Samsung wants to market these chips closer to SLC due to the CFT technology the end client SSDs may not see any price reduction at all.
  • 1Angelreloaded - Thursday, August 15, 2013 - link

    Samsung however is on a progressive kick "SSDs for everyone" so pricing could be very very competitive in an effort to sell mass units at lower costs, rather than fewer at a premium price point, tbh they are the only ones who have the numbers that can either justify or damn certain mainstream marketing technics due to the success of the 830/840 lines. Reply
  • gnx - Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - link

    No wonder Samsung stepped out of the hdd market awhile ago. With the added storage and longevity, looks like they're seeking to make sdds dominate mainstream quicker than most expected ... hmm ... Reply
  • MDme - Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - link

    Meanwhile...another company "innovates" by patenting a shape of a rectangle phone. Reply
  • flyingpants1 - Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - link

    Excuse me, only rectangles with rounded corners are patented. The rectangle with 90 degree angles is still fair game. Reply
  • flyingpants1 - Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - link

    And they will price-fix the hell out of them, just like RAM and SSDs and probably everything else. Reply
  • klmccaughey - Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - link

    Absolutely. No way are we getting a decent priced product until other manufacturers have it and they are on compete. Reply
  • LeftSide - Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - link

    We could see phones and tablets with 1tb of storage in the next few years. Reply

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