SanDisk, a developer of flash storage cards, is ramping up to develop flash memory chips in collaboration with Toshiba. The companies announced at the 2009 International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco that they will develop 32-nanometer, 32-gigabit flash memory chips based on SanDisk's X3 and X4 technology.
Milpitas, Calif.-based SanDisk's move toward multi-cell flash memory chips using 32nm technology came on the same day Intel announced a ramp-up to develop new processors using the same 32nm technology.
Both Intel and SanDisk plan to begin production later this year. Advanced Micro Devices has partnered with IBM on the same process.
A Fast Pace
"The timing of this release was in conjunction with two technical papers we presented at the ISSCC conference," said Mike Wong, a spokesperson for SanDisk. The papers described the key technology advancements which led to the development of the 64Gbit four-bits-per-cell NAND flash memory on 43nm technology.
Sanjay Mehrotra,, cofounder and president of SanDisk, said the company is moving at a fast pace, pointing out its move to a three-bits-per-cell process on 32nm just 18 months after it introduced the first-generation three-bits-per-cell process on 56nm.
"The significance of this chip is that it allows us to manufacture a 32-gigabyte MicroSD card, the most common form factor that is used in mobile phones," Wong said. "Our 32nm X3 chip is the third-generation chip within an 18-month time frame. We believe that this gives us capacity leadership, as we are the only ones to develop a single-die memory using 30nm-class products in 2009."
Both Intel and SanDisk point out the value in using the 32nm process. Both companies say the technology not only enables greater capacity, but also reduces manufacturing costs for memory cards and solid-state drives.
A Competitive Advantage
Reducing costs is significant in this economy, according to analysts, especially for chip and storage-card manufacturers who have seen a drop in PC and mobile-phone purchases.
"32nm technology builds upon SanDisk's successful deployment of immersion lithography in 43nm to implement spacer process without incurring additional investment in capital-intensive lithography equipment," said Klaus Schuegraf, vice president of memory technology at SanDisk. "SanDisk brings its industry-leading 64-bit NAND string length to 32nm, while compensating for bit-to-bit interference effects with innovative programming algorithms and system design."
Competitively speaking, SanDisk said it has the advantage.
"The size of our die is 113 square millimeters and I believe our competitor's is 172 square millimeters, which also means we have a cost advantage in addition to being the only one that fits into the microSD form factor," Schuegraf said.