20-nm Intel NAND set to make SSD debut this year

While being briefed on Intel's latest 520 Series SSD, we got an update on how the company's next-generation flash technology is coming along. Intel has a joint flash venture with memory giant Micron, and the two have begun mass producing NAND chips on a 20-nm fabrication process. Compute-grade flash dies are rolling off the line in 128Gb capacities, and as many as eight can be squeezed into a single package. We'll see these NAND chips appear in a 1TB SSD by the end of this year, Intel says.

Further details about that terabyte drive remain under wraps, so it's unclear whether Intel's own controller technology will be found under the hood. If Intel continues using third-party controller tech, it may have a hard time competing with rival SSD makers willing to charge substantially less for drives that offer largely equivalent performance. Of course, it could also make a tidy sum supplying those other SSD makers with flash.

The ability to produce cutting-edge flash, proprietary controller tech, and its own firmware puts Intel in an enviable position in the SSD market. We saw a number of SSD makers adopt Intel's flash in the latest round of releases, and I suspect even more will want to get in on its 20-nm chips once they become available.

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