Western Digital Is Starting To Produce World's First 64-Layer 3D NAND Flash Memory Chip

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Western Digital begins production of the first 64-layers 3D NAND memory chip in the world. Photo : SanDisk / YouTube

Western Digital has announced on Monday, Feb. 6, that it has started its production of the densest 3D NAND flash memory chips in the industry. The new Western Digital 3D NAND chips enable three bits of data to be stored in each cell and stack 64 layers atop another.

Western Digital 64-Layers 3D NAND Memory

According to Computerworld, the 3D NAND flash chips are based on 3D technology or vertical stacking. This technology is called Bit Cost Scaling (BiCS) by Western Digital (WD) and its partner Toshiba. The pilot production of the first 64-layer 3D NAND flash 512 GB memory chip has been already launched by WD.

Stacking NAND flash cells enable manufacturers to increase density, in the same way, a skyscraper provides in a smaller footprint some greater density. This leads to achieving lower cost per gigabyte of capacity. This technology also improves the speed of solid-state memory and increases data reliability.

As transistor sizes approached 10 nanometers, three-dimensional NAND has allowed manufacturers to overcome physical limitations of NAND flash as well as the ability to shrink dimensions further. The latest 3D NAND flash memory chips have been used to create standard 2.5-inch SSDs with more than 10TB of capacity and gum stick-sized SSDs with more than 3.3TB of storage.

Previous 3D NAND Memory Chips

In 2014, Samsung has been the first company to announce mass-production of 3D flash chips. Samsung's technology originally stacked 32-layers of NAND flash and it was called V-NAND. In what the industry refers to as multi-level cell (MLC) NAND or triple-level-cell (TLC) NAND, V-NAND also crammed 3-bits per cell.

Using TLC memory, Samsung's chips were able to store 128 Gbits or 16 GB, as much as Toshiba's original 48-layer 3D NAND chips stored. Other companies such as Micron and Intel also produce 3D NAND. In July 2016, Western Digital introduced the world's first 64-layer 3D NAND technology.

Now, the company announced that pilot production of the new 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory chips began in its Yokkaichi, Japan fabrication plant. Western Digital expects to begin mass production in the second half of 2017. According to Hot Hardware, Dr. Siva Sivaram, Western Digital Executive VP of Memory Technology, said that the launch of the industry's first 512 Gb 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory chip is an important step forward in the advancement of company's 3D NAND technology.

Sivaram added that the new memory chip is doubling the density from when the company first introduced the 64-layer architecture. This achievement is a great addition to Western Digital's rapidly broadening 3D NAND technology portfolio. Rapid data growth across a wide range of customer mobile, retail and data center applications leads to increasing demand for storage solutions. The company positions well in its plans to continue growing its share in this market.

Late last month, it was reported that Western Digital is interested in purchasing a 20 percent stake in its Toshiba partner's NAND flash business. Western Digital's own SSD family would be able to achieve more favorable economies of scale in case that the purchase will become reality. Western Digital also produces SSD storage solutions, including the WD Black and WD Blue SSD families.

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