Micron has taped out its first 4th Generation 3D NAND memory devices with its new replacement gate (RG) architecture. The tape out confirms that the company is on track to produce commercial 4th Gen 3D NAND memory in calendar 2020, but Micron warns that memory using the new architecture will only be used for select applications and therefore its 3D NAND cost reductions next year will be minimal.

Micron’s 4th Gen 3D NAND uses up to 128 active layers and continues to use a CMOS under the array design approach. The new type of 3D NAND memory changes floating gate technology (that has been used by Intel and Micron for years) for gate replacement technology in an attempt to lower die size and costs while improving performance as well as enabling easier transitions to next-generation nodes. The technology was developed solely by Micron without any input from Intel, so it is likely tailored for applications that Micron wants to target the most (likely high ASPs, such as mobile, consumer, etc.).

The tape out of Micron’s 4th Gen 128-layer 3D NAND indicates that the company’s new design is more than just a concept. At the same time, Micron does not have plans to transit all of its product lines to its initial RG process technology, so its company-wide cost per-bit will not drop significantly next year. Nonetheless, the firm promises that it will see meaningful cost reductions in FY2021 (starts in late September, 2020) after its subsequent RG node is broadly deployed.

Right now, Micron is ramping up production of 96-layer 3D NAND and next year that will be used across the vast majority of its product lines. The 128-layer 3D NAND hardware will not bring significant per-bit costs declines immediately, but over time. A succeeding node (Micron’s 5th Gen 3D NAND?) is likely to feature at least 128 layers and if used widely, it will predictably lower the company’s per-bit costs substantially compared to today.

Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO and president of Micron, said the following:

“We achieved our first yielding dies using replacement gate or “RG” for short. This milestone further reduces the risk for our RG transition. As a reminder, our first RG node will be 128 layers and will be used for a select set of products. We don’t expect RG to deliver meaningful cost reductions until FY2021 when our second-generation RG node is broadly deployed. Consequently, we are expecting minimal cost reductions in NAND in FY2020. Our RG production deployment approach will optimize the ROI of our NAND capital investments.”

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Sources: Micron

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  • FunBunny2 - Friday, October 4, 2019 - link

    Despite what the Laffer Hyena has said, supply doesn't create its own demand.
  • azfacea - Friday, October 4, 2019 - link

    yes it absolutely does. purchasing power comes from production. an economy that cant produce cant buy. though i'll have better luck explaining calculus to a donkey.

    also he was talking macro not 3d nand. but you you picked an example where it works on a micro level as well LMFAO. cheaper ssd converts more hard disk use case >> more nand demand
  • FunBunny2 - Saturday, October 5, 2019 - link

    if Laffer Donkey were right, producers would continue spewing output in the face of deflation and collapsing demand and unemployment. there would never be recessions, much less depressions because producers would keep lowering prices and increasing output to meet available disposable incomes. that's never happened. ever. anywhere.
  • evernessince - Sunday, October 6, 2019 - link

    wtf did I just read. By this logic there should be great demand for my feces given how much I produce. Supply does not generate demand, that's non-nonsensical.
  • BedfordTim - Monday, October 7, 2019 - link

    Demand generally exists but it is cost reduction that turns it into purchases. As evernessince points out there is not a demand for everything and even where there is demand it is not infinite.
    As an example if you could buy new cars for 1$, storage and usage would limit demand regardless of supply, as no one wants a hundred unused cars sitting on their drive.
  • BurntMyBacon - Monday, October 7, 2019 - link

    What azfacea is missing here is demand is associated with cost. There is a price at which nobody at all wants the product and at zero cost, you have your maximum demand (which is not infinite). Creating more supply does not increase demand, but can sometimes result in lower costs. If that price reduction gets passed on to consumers, then it can increase demand. There us also the scenario where increasing supply requires significant investment and prices actually raise as a result. This often happens when a supplier underestimates demand. Of course, prices often go up before supply gets addressed as some are willing to spend more to make sure they get the product while others have to wait and manufacturers aren't very keen on increasing recurring costs until they are sure the demand is sustainable.
  • Kevin G - Friday, October 4, 2019 - link

    Shouldn't the article title include the word "Gen" or "Generation"? It reads really weird without it. The first sentence in the article has this figured out.
  • Dragonstongue - Friday, October 4, 2019 - link

    sweet deal, I hope Micron/Crucial put ever more downward pressure to keep prices AFFORDABLE for the "little buyers"

    seems to me, 500gb+ should be target for all makers 3d (not 4d / QDC) style..let the workstation/server have them ones, let us keep 3d / MLC-SLC cache for everyone else, also 1tb for under $175 would be great as well, is coming very close to there (not USA pricing .. generalized everywhere pricing)

  • azfacea - Friday, October 4, 2019 - link

    its 140 $ per tb already in canada since 9 months ago. and not garbage brands either. wd and crucial which i found to be more reliable than samsung
  • Death666Angel - Monday, October 7, 2019 - link

    We've had the 1TB 660p at 100€ since July and the 2TB one at 200€ since May. TLC drives are at 110€ to 130€ for the best performers and decent brands (EU/Germany pricing). I don't know where you live, but it may just be your local market being crap with PC components? :)

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