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.

Comments closed
    • conjurer
    • 12 years ago

    They will. Even if 20nm is the limit, sooner or later market will be flooded by many ssd’s, which means more factories, to make them for less money. Same as goes with ram, ddr3 got cheaper after few years, and ddr2 is now twice expensive as it was few years ago.

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    Waiting to go into production when the kinks are worked out? You’re not generally going to see industry-leading products be the first off a new line.

    • NeelyCam
    • 12 years ago

    Yeah, so this is much like Intel’s 32nm gate pitch is tighter than TSMC’s 28nm gate pitch..

    /[<http://www.realworldtech.com/page.cfm?ArticleID=RWT072109003617&p=11<]/ Node labels mean nothing.

    • tinyfusion
    • 12 years ago

    It looks like it is actually 27 nm:

    §[<http://www.eetimes.com/news/semi/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=224400702<]§ Samsung knows their 2x nm NAND is behind in both schedule and process shrink, so they spin the news around to make people think it leads the race

    • crazybus
    • 12 years ago

    Density can also refer to the capacity of the chip or module. You can see this use of the term in Samsung’s press release.

    • oMa
    • 12 years ago

    What will happen when the transitions start to slow down. When we are in the teens of nm. I don’t think we are going to see a nand ssd’s getting cheaper then HDD’s. And prices will not sink as rapidly as today.

    • willyolio
    • 12 years ago

    yes, your fractions should be the other way around.

    • NeelyCam
    • 12 years ago

    20^2/30^2=0.44. 50% is pretty close.

    Or, are you saying productivity increase should be 100%, since silicon area per bit should be reduced by 50%?

    • GTVic
    • 12 years ago

    You are confusing density with capacity. It is half the size BECAUSE the density is increased, more transistors/mm² means the size is reduced which means you get more chips/wafer which means more GB/wafer which reduces the $/GB.

    The capacity per chip is meaningless, the capacity per mm² is key.

    • djgandy
    • 12 years ago

    You need to understand what density is.

    A chip is not a fixed size. If they double the density and produce a chip that is half the capacity then they are making the chip one quarter of the size!

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    I know it’s not linear, but they did say, “Samsung’s 20nm-class MLC NAND has a 50 percent higher productivity level than 30nm-class MLC NAND.”

    • Vasilyfav
    • 12 years ago

    It’s actually 44% the size of the 30nm chip *[

    • tinyfusion
    • 12 years ago

    Misleading! 20 nm class could be anywhere between 20 to 30 nm. It is the propoganda as they are behind IMFT in developing sub-30nm NAND technoplogy. IMFT doubles capacity when moving 34nm to 25nm. The fact Samsung is able to increase productivity by only 50% speaks for itself.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    Your math is wrong.

    A 32Gb chip at 20nm is not half the size of a 64Gb chip at 30nm.

    It’s 1/4th the size. Now I see why you are confused, but that is just wrong.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    You are making a sweeping generalization and assuming that all SSDs use 64 Gb or larger chips. Look at what Vasilyfav pointed out:

    “Samsung Electronics first began producing 32Gb NAND with 30nm-class process technology in March 2009.”

    We’ve had SSDs just a wee bit longer than that, and even when those chips went into production, they likely did not find their way into SSDs for quite some time.

    Anything that uses 32Gb chips will now only need half the amount of silicon.

    You flat out said it won’t make SSDs cheaper.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 12 years ago

    Now I know you’re just doing your usual arguing for the sake of it. If they replace a 64Gb chip with a 32Gb chip, and we assume for the sake of argument that the latter costs half as much to make, where does that leave us for $/Gb? I am not certain why it’s so hard to understand that in such a case we are left with a wash in terms of $/Gb.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 12 years ago

    q[

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    They did get the density up. And it will lower the price. You’ve lost me.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 12 years ago

    Hence why I said ‘Come on Samsung, get those densities up!’

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    Yarly. They never said this is all they can do at 20nm. They just said this is the first thing they’re doing, then everyone jumps to conclusions and says they’re not going to be able to make larger SSDs.

    Nobody uses a new manufacturing process to do something completely new right off the bat. They do something simpler than what even the last node was capable of.

    • Vasilyfav
    • 12 years ago

    You are the one that’s dense here. Bits/chip means nothing, the only thing that’s relevant is bits/unit of area and chips/wafer.

    Oh and maybe read the article next time:

    Samsung Electronics first began producing 32Gb NAND with 30nm-class process technology in March 2009. Now it is shipping SD card samples to customers that are built with 20nm-class 32Gb NAND and will expand production later this year.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    There will be a huge boost, like 500GB at the high end.

    SSDs will pretty much never be competitive on a price per GB level, but eventually, enough is enough. It’s not really the capacity so much as the fact that they aren’t quite sorted out enough to be the mainstream replacement for HDDs.

    If that were the case, manufacturers would be spamming the things to no end and prices would be much lower at the bottom. As it stands now, they’re still more of a niche thing for early adopters at the high end, and the prices reflect it even for “low end” drives.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 12 years ago

    O RLY? q[

    • pullmyfoot
    • 12 years ago

    the fact that there will be not much of a boost in storage space gives the HD manufacturers a bit more time to breath easy before SSDs start to seriously creep even more into traditional HD territory.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    They’re not half as dense. They’re roughly twice as dense.

    These are just the first, so they don’t have the capacity to make larger chips.

    It’s just like how Intel didn’t make larger drives when they moved to 34nm, but the prices still went down. 9 months later, their drives are still flying off the shelves and they still don’t seem to have the capacity for the 320GB drives.

    Or Intel starting off 32nm with dual-cores instead of even shrinking quad-cores…and now there are 6 core CPUs.

    Or AMD starting off 40nm with the cut down Radeon 4770s…and now there are Radeon 5800s.

    And so on and so forth.

    • BooTs
    • 12 years ago

    Ah, I get it now. So this 50% increase they talk about would be better yields in producing these chips?

    So for SSDs probably lower prices and faster speeds but without a boost in storage space? Sounds good.

    • Waco
    • 12 years ago

    Their capacity is half as much as the most dense chips from the older process (32 Gb versus 64 Gb).

    • BooTs
    • 12 years ago

    I thought I was going to be second. 🙁

    • BooTs
    • 12 years ago

    Where are you getting this half-as-dense thing? This is more dense, so SSD prices should eventually be affected, amirite?

    • NeelyCam
    • 12 years ago

    l[

    • Jakubgt
    • 12 years ago

    You also have cheaper manufacturing costs to factor in.

    ps. second! (I’ve never been second, so this is quite an achievement for me)

    • MadManOriginal
    • 12 years ago

    So if they are half as dense that means it takes twice as many to get the same capacity…which means that SSDs won’t be dropping in price directly because of this 🙁 Come on Samsung, get those densities up!

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