SAN JOSE, Calif. — Samsung sketched out plans for a terabit 3D-NAND chip that it will ship next year as well as dense solid-state drives using its current chips. It also said that it is sampling the Z-NAND products that it announced last year at latency levels that match or beat Intel’s 3DXP memories.
Samsung’s Tbit NAND will support data rates up to 1.2 Gbits/second and pack four terabytes in a package that stacks 32 die. The chip will embed peripheral circuits in a new metal bonding layer at the bottom of a cell stack as one way to hit the new density level, said Kye Hyun Kyung, Samsung’s executive vice president of flash products and technology, in a talk at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters.
The news was part of Samsung’s keynote at the Flash Memory Summit, where some rivals described chips using 96 layers and four bits per cell. Samsung’s current 512-Gbit chips use nine vertical channels and 64 layers built in a descending stair fashion for stability, up from four channels and 48 layers in the prior generation.
Kyung said that versions of 3D-NAND with up to four bits per cell will fill most of the industry’s non-volatile memory needs. However, he said that the Korean giant has been working since at least 2002 on versions of magnetic and phase-change memories with sub-microsecond latencies that it will eventually ship to help plug gaps between NAND and DRAM.
Meanwhile, Samsung is sampling users including NetApp and Datera solid-state drives (SSDs) using its Z-NAND chips that deliver 15-microsecond latency. The chips use sense amps optimized solely for latency, run at data rates up to 800 Mbits/s, and target data centers running analytics and caching programs.
Samsung is working on a second-generation Z-NAND supporting two bits per cell. They are aimed to be more affordable, although their read latency is expected to nudge up slightly.
The Z-NAND products challenge Intel’s Optane SSDs based on its 3DXP chips and launched in March. Given the latencies of the PCI Express bus that SSDs use, the most disruptive opportunities for such chips will be in cards expected next year riding faster memory busses, said Jim Handy, market watcher with Objective Analysis (Los Gatos, California).
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