IM Flash Technologies, the joint venture between Intel and Micron, has hit yet another process technology milestone. AnandTech reports that the firm is now sampling its first 25-nm device, a 2-bit-per-cell, multi-level-cell NAND flash memory chip with a 64Gb (8GB) capacity.
The chip has a die size of 167 mm²—reportedly about 5 mm² smaller than IMFT's 34-nm, 4GB chip, which forms the basis for Intel's second-generation X25-M solid state drives. Those SSDs are currently available in 80GB and 160GB flavors, but as AnandTech notes, third-gen X25-Ms built on the new silicon will come with capacities of 160GB, 320GB, and 600GB.
IMFT expects the 25-nm MLC NAND to hit mass production some time next quarter. Intel, meanwhile, has 25-nm X25-M SSDs on its roadmap for the fourth quarter of the year. (For reference, those second-gen X25-Ms only hit the market last summer. Firmware issues did force the company to halt shipments for a few weeks shortly thereafter, though.)
According to AnandTech, IMFT believes its 34-nm process put it roughly six months ahead of the competition. With the new, 25-nm NAND, that lead time has purportedly grown to an entire year. Staying ahead of the competition on the manufacturing front has been a key ingredient of Intel's success in the processor market, and it looks like IMFT is operating along similar guidelines.