Intel, Micron Get Even Smaller with 20nm NAND Flash

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-04-14 Print this article Print

New 8GB chip will bring high capacity to smallest-yet form factor for tablets, smartphones, and other devices.

NAND flash chip development has taken its latest step forward.

Only four months after it started shipping its ClearNAND 25-nanometer Flash processor, partners Intel and Micron Technology's joint venture, IM Flash Technologies, on April 14 introduced a 20-nm process for manufacturing even smaller solid-state memory.

The new process produces an 8GB, multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash device, which measures only 118mm2 yet provides a high-capacity small-form factor storage option.

The smaller size of the chip doesn't seem like a major change, but it enables a 30 to 40 percent reduction in board space (depending on package type) compared to the companies' existing 25nm 8GB NAND device, Micron said.

The resultant chip will be used by device and systems manufacturers for the burgeoning market in embedded applications for handheld devices, enterprise-level servers, tablet computers, MP3 players, digital cameras, security cameras and others.

Micron makes NAND Flash for host processors built by its partner semiconductor firms that include Intel, the world's largest chip maker. With each iteration of its chip, Micron adds more capacity, enabling products and applications to have more functionality.

The NAND flash market has continued to see a significant downward trend in the size of its chips. Boise, Idaho-based Micron, which competes with companies such as Samsung, WD, SanDisk, Toshiba, Seagate and others, has taken the die size down to 20nm from 72nm and above from about three years ago.

Eventually, all nanotechnology has to face its limits, and Micron, Intel and Toshiba have said that NAND flash processing will be approaching that wall in about five years. 

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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