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NAND Flash Soon Down to 20nm

by: admin Monday, April 11th, 2011

Upcoming flash memory chips are being based on increasingly small manufacturing technology. The latest challenge is bringing the miniaturization down to 20 nanometers–an impressive feat in itself, but not without a whole new set of problems.

IM Flash Technologies (IM stands for Intel/Micron) is however already well underway with a further reduction in size of NAND-based flash memory. It’s only recently that SSDs have started to move down from 34nm to 25nm, but the manufacturer already has its sights set on 20nm and the road from development to mass production is almost at an end.

A five nanometers decrease from the current circuit wiring thickness might not seem like much, but we are talking about atomic sizes here, so it’s quite a big step technically. The end result is increased density, larger capacities and lower cost per GB.

Unfortunately there’s a big “but” at the end; a smaller manufacturing process means that it’s easier for the electrons to penetrate increasingly thin silicon walls, causing a simultaneously increasing amount of data errors. To counter this, better error correction is needed as well as additional NAND circuits to ensure data integrity through redundancy (over-provisioning).

The question remains whether any and all of these measures (error correction + overprovisioning) are good enough to counter the reduction in durability. We have already established that the redundancy issue is not being handled all that well.

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3 Responses to “NAND Flash Soon Down to 20nm”

vt Said:

Unfortunately, there are 2 problems which take place simultaneously – an increased number of errors (and lower storage time) and decreased erase count. While the 1st problem can be countered with overprovisioning, the 2nd problem still remains. As erase cycle count moves below 3000 per block, usage of internal MLC SSDs becomes quite controversial because of their low maximum durability.
As you can see from the current prices, the manufacturers of SSDs are using the results of previous advertising campaigns to sell lower quality SSDs at unreasonable prices. But the question is how long it can go on before the retail customers become more aware of the new problems, and more angered about them.

Comment made on April 13th, 2011 at 1:05 am
admin Said:

Yes, I’ve also seen some web hosting providers offering “the latest” MLC SSD in their dedicated boxes (for a hefty premium, of course). Angry consumers is one thing, pissed-off companies with legal departments another. It will be interesting to see what happens down the line.

Comment made on April 13th, 2011 at 11:04 am
vt Said:

In such cases i would prefer a clear agreement in which the hosting provider company is directly responsible for any data loss due to hardware failure. Or any other agreement which indirectly condition the obligation of the hosting provider to replace worn-out parts. And, of course, the terms of hosting should NOT contain any references to maximum allowed disk I/O per given period.
In such a light any kinds of advice about “not storing temporary files, databases and swap files” on SSDs look at least ridiculously. If i need a SSD for my tasks it means i need it for frequent IO operations, which DEFINITELY include storing there temporarily files, cache files, swap files and frequently updated databases – i need a SSD specifically to put it all there instead of a usual HDD.

Comment made on April 22nd, 2011 at 3:33 pm
 

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