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Intel-Micron partnership shrinks flash to 20nm

The Intel-Micron Flash Technologies joint venture has announced the start of sampling for its 20nm NAND flash chip - giving the partnership a significant head-start over its competitors.

Interest in NAND flash as a storage device - prized for its speed, low power draw, and robustness - has been growing exponentially as companies release cheaper devices for PCs. The growth of the tablet market has also helped spur demand, with the overwhelming majority of tablets on the market today featuring NAND flash.

Most NAND flash is built on a 34nm process, with companies starting to introduce 25nm devices into their offerings - a process shrink which promises to reduce size and therefore cost, but which has also resulted in reduced capacity and a possible decrease in lifespan.

In contrast, IMFT's 20nm manufacturing process offers the same performance as its rival's 25nm process, the company claims - while reducing the size of the finished chip by around 35 per cent. The reduced size equates to reduced production costs, slimmer devices, and additional storage.

Sadly, the company's new chips aren't quite ready yet. Although sampling is currently underway, 8GB and 16GB chips aren't expected to hit mass production until the second half of the year.