Samsung starts cranking out 20-nm NAND chips

The folks at Samsung aren't wasting any time getting new process technologies ready. Only one year after kicking off production of 30-nm NAND flash chips, the company has announced "the industry's first production" of 20-nm multi-level cell NAND flash memory chips. This new silicon could start showing up in "smart phones, high-end IT applications and high-performance memory cards" by the end of the year.

Although Samsung flaunted a 30-nm NAND chip with a 64Gb capacity as early as October 2007, the company's latest 20-nm design stores 32Gb—or 4GB. Still, the firm claims the 20-nm parts deliver a 30% performance increase over SD cards based on 30-nm chips, with 20MB/s read and 10MB/s write speeds. (When arrayed together in an SSD, of course, such chips could reach much higher aggregate transfer rates.) The denser process also allows for smaller, cheaper chips, leading Samsung to claim a "50 percent higher productivity level than 30nm-class MLC NAND."

Samsung is sampling SD cards based on the 20-nm, 32Gb chips to its customers, and it expects to increase production later in the year. Consumers should see the first fruits of that labor in the form of high-density SD memory cards with capacities of 4GB to 64GB.

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