Intel, Micron Ramp Up 34nm Flash NAND Production

Intel and Micron have jointly announce that they will start the mass production of 4GB multi-level cell NAND Flash memory chips (otherwise known as MLC) using 34nm process in a bid to create cheaper but higher capacity solid state devices.

IM Flash Technology, the American Joint Venture created by the two giants, will try to challenge Japanese Toshiba and Korean Samsung in the growing sector of solid state devices as 34nm will allow them to churn out memory chips at a lower cost, especially as IMFT will use 300mm wafers.

Samsung has already announced plans to move to 30nm production in 2009; the next step appears to be a 22nm process that should appear sometimes in 2011 and Intel has already announced that it is preparing to manufacture 10nm chips within a decade and will use 450nm wafers by 2012.

These components will then find their way in SSD, digital cameras, personal media players, MP3 players, digital camcorders and even mobile phones. By combining 16 chips in a two-layer stack, manufacturers can pack up to 64GB on a 48-lead TSOP packaging.

Both Intel and Micron have signed long term agreements with Apple to supply the iPod manufacturer with a steady stream of Flash memory for which the Cupertino-based manufacturer paid $500 million.

IMFT is currently third placed with 14 percent, half Toshiba's size and a third of Samsung's marketshare. SLC devices often cost more than twice the price of their MLC counterparts but offer better speed and reliability.

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