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Intel’s 3D NAND technology could complete change the SSD market

Intel has announced intentions to launch solid state drives based on its 3D NAND technology sometime during the second half of next year. Developed in cooperation with flash memory specialist Micron, the tech stacks 32 planar layers which delivers 256Gb (32GB) of storage in a single MLC die. Pushing it even further, the 3D NAND can be packed with three bits per cell to end up with 385Gb (48GB) per die. Senior vice president and general manager of the non-volatile memory group at Intel, Rob Crooke, said the technology will enable 10TB solid state drives within the next couple of years.

Intel plans to ship 3D NAND flash chips next year that will allow it to cram more bits into solid-state storage. Its 3D NAND will have twice the density of competing products on the market now, Intel claims. Samsung, a key rival, is already on its second generation of SSDs built with 3D technology. 3D NAND has multiple layers of transistors stacked on top of each other in a cube. Intel’s chips will have 32 layers. Samsung is shipping SSDs made with 32-layer flash, but Intel says its products will hold twice as many bits: 256 billion bits on a single die using MLC (multilevel cell), the most common form of flash. Flash storage is much faster and more power-efficient than spinning disks but remains more expensive to manufacture. By doubling the capacity of a single die, Intel thinks it can achieve a breakthrough in the cost of flash so it can go into a wider range of systems. Products that already use flash will be able to have more storage for a given price.

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