Samsung begins mass production of 70 nm NAND Flash

Seoul (Korea) - Samsung is the first semiconductor manufacturer to ramp up the 70 nm production process for its OneNAND Flash memory. The company claims that the new memory will boost production efficiency by 70% and lay the foundation for new Flash products such as hybrid hard drives.

NAND Flash memory is currently produced industry-wide in a 90 nm process, which was first introduced by Samsung in April of 2004. The company said that the 70 nm generation is already designed into more than 100 mobile products with new demand being created by products such as set-top boxes, digital TVs and also digital cameras, which are slowly switching from NOR Flash memory to NAND.

Samsung has positioned its OneNAND Flash to capture such customers by promoting a capability to combine NOR's ability to quickly read data - for example in boot processes - with NAND's most important features of fast write speeds and higher capacity ranges. According to the manufacturer, the 70 nm Flash offers sustained read speeds of 108 MB/s, as compared to 68 MB/s of the 90 nm generation. Write speeds stay at 9.3 MB/s.

The scaled down size of Samsung's memory chips will allow the company to fit more dies on one wafer and increase production output while reducing the overall cost of its OneNAND Flash. The company claims that efficiency climbs by about 70% over the 90 nm generation, which will enable Samsung to keep an edge in an increasingly competitive market. According to market research firm iSuppli, Samsung currently dominates the NAND Flash market with a 50% share, but will face more serious competition once the NAND Flash joint-venture between Intel and Micron will begin production.

Samsung today is one of the major suppliers of Flash memory for Apple's iPod Nano and Shuffle, but the company intends to move into new products that already require Flash memory - or will adopt Flash memory in future product generations. Among such products are solid state hard disks and hybrid hard drives, which combine traditional hard drive technology with Flash memory. According to sources, Microsoft intends to make hybrid hard drives a requirement for notebooks that will be equipped with Vista Premium by the second or third quarter of 2007. So far, Samsung is the only manufacturer that has confirmed the development of such hard drives. Samsung representatives recently told TG Daily that the company will be offering Flash-supported hard drives by the end of this year.