Intel, Micron Smack Samsung With 50nm NAND
Intel and partner company Micron Technology have broken the 50 nanometer (nm) barrier on NAND flash memory and have begun sampling 4 gigabit (Gb) devices manufactured through IM Flash Technologies.
The companies say the slimmer process technology will help meet the growing demand for higher density NAND flash by computer and consumer electronics manufacturers. The demand for higher density is fueled by the success of digital music players, removable storage and handheld communications devices.
The NAND market segment is estimated to reach $13 to $16 billion in 2006 and grow to approximately $25 to $30 billion by 2010, according to industry forecasts.
“Micron entered the NAND business in 2004 using a 90 nm process. In a few short years and through our collaboration with Intel, we are now poised to introduce a leadership product based on a cutting-edge process technology,” said Brian Shirley, Micron vice president of memory.
Micron and Intel formed IMFT in January to manufacture NAND flash memory products for the two companies, an entry into a market that Intel calls “an incredibly fast ramp.”
“We started shipping products to customers in the first quarter of this year, and we’re seeing very high demand across multiple flash densities,” said Brian Harrison, vice president and general manager, Flash Memory Group, Intel.
“Working with Micron, we are poised to transition quickly to the 50 nm process technology and beyond.”
Production of the new NAND devices is centered in Micron’s Boise, Idaho facility and from Micron’s 300 mm facility in Manassas, Virginia. IMFT headquarters in Lehi, Utah is expected to begin producing the products early 2007.
The breakthrough in the NAND market is a challenge to Samsung, who controls over 50% of the market share in that industry. Samsung is known for breaking those barriers first. In 2005, the company broke the 90 nm barrier, and just last week announced the production of 60 nm chips carrying two vertically stacked 4 Gb packages.
Micron is currently the fifth largest NAND flash manufacturer, but a size breakthrough and partnership with Intel, which has an exclusive relationship with Apple, could move the company higher on the flash chart. IMFT is the long term supplier of flash memory for phenomenally popular Apple iPod.