3-bit, multi-level-cell 3D NAND flash memory chips

15 January 2016 Cho Jin-young

Toshiba invests at least 500 billion yen in order to set foot in the 3D NAND flash market and its manufacturing facilities for the same purpose are put into operation in 2017 in Yokkaichi, Japan with SanDisk acting as a partner. Next-generation NAND flash memories for use in smart phones, data centers and the like are to be produced there.

As of the end of the third quarter of last year, Toshiba and SanDisk ranked second and third in global NAND flash market share, accounting for 20.5% and 15.4%, respectively. Their combined market share exceeds that of Samsung Electronics by a margin of 4.4 percentage points. The competition between the two sides is likely to become even more intense once the manufacturing facilities in Japan begin to be run.

In the meantime, it is said that Samsung Electronics, which produced 3D NAND flash memories for the first time in the industry, is planning on facility expansion with its plant located in Xi’an, China operating at full capacity. According to industry sources, more 3D NAND equipment are likely to be placed at the remaining sites in the plant from this year. At present, the factory’s monthly production capacity is equivalent to 100,000 wafer sheets.

Intel is expected to manufacture 3D NAND flash memories in Dalian, China from the second half of this year. Its plant in the region, which has been in operation since 2010, is a fab based on 64-nano technology, a couple of generations behind the latest technology. Intel is going to invest up to US$5.5 billion there for the mass production of 3D NAND flash memories and 3D crosspoint SSDs.

The demand for 3D NAND flash memories is predicted to soar from this year as their scope of utilization is expanded from servers and SSDs to micro SD cards, smart phones, tablet PCs, laptops, etc. Toshiba and Intel are expected to be able to boost their production capacity to 200% to 300% of that of Samsung Electronics in Xi’an by next year with 3D NAND emerging as a new standard in the industry.