[THE INVESTOR] SK hynix has developed a 72-layer 256-Gigabit three-dimensional NAND Flash, the industry’s highest, and plans to start mass production of the chips in the second half of the year, the company announced on April 10.
It took less than a year for the South Korean chipmaker to complete the development of the fourth-generation 3D NAND chip, since it began supplying 36-layer 128 Gb NAND chips last April and 48-layer 256 Gb chips in November. A single 256 Gb NAND Flash chip can represent 32-Gigabyte storage.
The company’s proprietary technology to produce a 72-layer 3D NAND Flash chip can be likened to constructing 4 billion 72-storey buildings in an area that is about the size of a coin.
Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest memory chip provider, currently mass produces 64-layer 512 Gb NAND chips.
Productivity of the latest 72-layer NAND Flash is 30 percent higher than the previous 48-layer chips, according to SK hynix. A higher speed circuit is applied to double the internal operation speed, which has also improved the data processing performance by 20 percent.
“By stacking 1.5 times more cells than the 48-layer NAND, the overall performance of the NAND has been greatly improved,” said a company spokesman. “The company is currently working to double the storage of the chip to 512 Gb as well.”
Demand for 3D NAND chips is forecast to skyrocket as artificial intelligence, big data and cloud storage technologies evolve. According to market researcher Gartner, the global NAND Flash market is expected to total $46.5 billion this year and grow to $56.5 billion by 2021.
SK hynix is currently the fifth largest NAND Flash producer with a 10.3 percent share in the global market, while it is the second biggest in the DRAM market. The company is trying to acquire the semiconductor business of cash-strapped Toshiba, the No. 2 NAND maker.
“With the introduction of this industry’s highest productivity 3D NAND, SK hynix will mass produce the 256 Gb 3D NAND in the second half of this year to provide this to worldwide business clients for optimum use in storage solutions” said Kim Jong-ho, head of marketing at SK hynix. “The company plans to expand the usage of the product to SSDs and mobile gadgets such as smartphones to further improve its business structure weighted towards DRAM.”
By Song Su-hyun/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)