Toshiba starts fabbing 15-nm MLC NAND

The progression to finer flash fabrication processes is largely responsible for the steep decline in SSD prices observed over the past few years. The cheapest drives now sell for less than 50 cents per gigabyte, and prices are likely to fall even further. Toshiba has started mass-producing MLC NAND built on a 15-nm process. The 128Gb (16GB) chips have achieved the "world's smallest class chip size," the company says.

Production of the new NAND is being handled by Toshiba's Fab 5 Yokkaichi Operations facility in Mie Prefecture, Japan. Fab 5 is converting its existing 19-nm lines to 15-nm tech, and a second stage of the facility currently under construction will use the same node. Tosihba also plans to apply the finer process to TLC NAND. The three-bit variant is scheduled for mass production in June.

In addition to shrinkage, Toshiba's next-gen flash has "improved peripheral power circuit technology." It boasts a faster interface, too—533Mbps, an increase of 1.3X over the old 19-nm stuff. The NAND's write speed hasn't changed, Toshiba says.

Interestingly, the press release mentions that updated controllers are in development for smartphones, tablets, and PCs. The company had its own controller tech before acquiring OCZ last year, and it now has access to the intelligence behind that firm's Indilinx controller. Toshiba is one of very few companies capable of producing all the crucial components of a modern SSD.

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