Intel and Micron have hit a couple of new milestones that should pave the way for cheaper, higher-capacity solid-state drives later this year. The two companies, which collaborate through their joint venture IMFT, say they've kicked off mass production of 64Gb (8GB) 20-nm NAND flash chips. They also claim to have developed the "the world's first 20 nanometer (nm), 128 gigabit (Gb), multilevel-cell (MLC) device." Here's the skinny, straight from this morning's announcement:
Developed through Intel and Micron's joint-development venture, IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), the new 20nm monolithic 128Gb device is the first in the industry to enable a terabit (Tb) of data storage in a fingertip-size package by using just eight die. It also provides twice the storage capacity and performance of the companies' existing 20nm 64Gb NAND device. The 128Gb device meets the high-speed ONFI 3.0 specification to achieve speeds of 333 megatransfers per second (MT/s), providing customers with a more cost-effective solid-state storage solution for today's slim, sleek product designs, including tablets, smartphones and high-capacity solid-state drives (SSDs.)
Intel and Micron say their 20-nm parts feature a planar cell structure that "successfully breaks the scaling constraints of the standard NAND floating gate cell by integrating the first Hi-K/metal gate stack on NAND production." Thanks to that design, IMFT's 20-nm NAND flash devices will purportedly deliver the same performance and reliability as previous-generation, 25-nm NAND
The 128Gb device is on track to sample next month and hit mass production by June. Since the 64Gb device has now entered mass production, I expect we'll see the first products based on it before too long.