The Future of Flash Memory: 3D NAND

3D NAND Flash

Recent news has shown the continual price drop of 2D NAND Flash into the third quarter of 2018, due to oversupply in the market. Additionally, user speculation of 3D NAND benefits have caused manufacturers to scale up their chip output for the up-and-coming form of flash memory. The industry must to gear up for the new 3D NAND Flash memory as there is one word on everyone’s mind: data.

Over the years, flash storage has become larger, faster and cheaper.  All the hottest concepts in technology include data collection and data storage with the use of the cloud, internet of things, etc. These data requirements are increasing every day as storage is necessary to collect, process and share information over these digital platforms.

Why 3D NAND Flash?

2D NAND Flash has reached its architectural capacity, as this form of flash is built on a lateral or planar form in a single layer of memory cells. Cell-to-cell interference caused a reduction in the reliability of 2D NAND products. With devices becoming ever-increasingly smaller with large amounts of memory and storage requirements, this sparked the need for the transition to 3D NAND. This storage form consists of tiers of memory capacity stacked on top of each other in multiple layers, capitalizing more on the vertical space rather than horizontal. This architecture delivers significantly more storage capacity at a lower cost per gigabyte in a smaller physical space, making the transition to 3D NAND a no-brainer, in theory.

The Challenges of 3D NAND Flash

Currently, manufacturing 3D NAND at a large scale has faced challenges, as the steps needed to stack and connect each tier of memory has proven to be technologically complicated. This has resulted in a higher manufacturing cost in comparison to 2D NAND. Additionally, the transition from 2D to 3D NAND requires significant changes to how memory devices are utilized. This could take some time for the industry to fully accept this new form of flash memory. With more manufacturing resources being allocated to 3D NAND production, this suggests the real arrival of 3D NAND is likely just around the corner.

Market Impact of 3D NAND Transition

NAND Flash manufacturers have focused their efforts on converting or expanding fabrication plants to 3D NAND, which could make 2D NAND obsolete sooner than anticipated. Following the footsteps of the leading 3D NAND producers Samsung and Micron, most NAND Flash suppliers have begun mass production of 3D NAND chips during the latter part of 2017. The 3D NAND Flash memory market is expected to reach $39 billion by the year 2022, supported by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.7%. 3D NAND is suitable for the same types of business and consumer applications for which 2D NAND is in use. Solid-state drives equipped with NAND Flash can boost application performance and lower latency in comparison to traditional storage media such as hard disk drives and tape.

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