NAND Flash Soon Down to 20nm
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.