© ic insights Analysis | September 23, 2014
Process roadmap for memory devices marches on as 3D looms
Vertical dimension to extend the life of DRAM and NAND flash as alternative memories get a closer look.
The ongoing reduction in feature sizes used to manufacture integrated circuits has enhanced memory-chip performance by increasing per-chip storage capacities, lowering power consumption, and improving the speed in which memory devices can store and retrieve data (i.e., memory bandwidth). For example, there has been a 20x improvement in the per-channel memory bandwidth of mobile DRAM over the past decade. In mid-2014, the most advanced process technology used to make NAND flash devices was based on 20nm and smaller feature sizes, and just under 30nm for DRAMs. The process technology roadmaps shown in Figure 1 suggest that by 2017, the minimum feature size for 2D (planar) NAND flash will migrate to 10-12nm and to ≤20nm for DRAM. The transition points shown in the chart should be used only as rough guidelines since reported minimum feature sizes and mass production definitions are very imprecise and may be influenced by marketing “numbers games” as companies strive to get ahead of the competition. In manufacturing NAND flash memory, companies such as Samsung, SK Hynix, Toshiba, and IM Flash Technologies are currently applying minimum geometries of 15-16nm. The first of these NAND devices were built in 2H13, but production quantities were limited amid reports of initial yield challenges. However, high-volume production of 15-16nm NAND chips has been ramping up in 2014. SanDisk announced that the generation following its 19nm-based NAND chips (some call it the 1y generation that follows 1x) would have the same minimum geometry (19nm) as the prior generation. It was expected that SanDisk’s 1y NAND chips would have a minimum geometry of 15-16nm. Though the minimum feature size remained the same, SanDisk was able to reduce the memory cell size by 25%. Initial production of the 1y devices started in the second half of 2013. It appears that SanDisk (and its manufacturing partner Toshiba) decided to improve the cell size through advanced memory cell design efforts instead of scaling the geometry. IM Flash, the memory-chip joint venture between Intel and Micron, said it believes two-dimensional NAND flash technology could be scaled to 10nm and that 3D NAND would take over from there. The company also said that 3D NAND would have to be manufactured with at least 32 layers to be economically feasible. © IC Insights The first company to mass-produce 3D NAND chips was Samsung. In May 2014, the company announced that it had started volume production of its V-NAND flash chips using 32 memory cell layers. The company had previously shipped a limited number of solid-state drives (SSDs) based on its first generation 24-layer V-NAND technology to some of its data center customers in 2013. In conjunction with the 32-layer V NAND announcement, Samsung launched a line-up of premium SSDs based on the second-generation technology that are available for not just data center applications, but also for high-end personal computers. Other NAND flash manufacturers are hoping to begin production of 3D NAND parts in 2014, but 2015 appears more likely. Manufacturing 3D NAND is incredibly complex and there still are issues being worked out, so as long as life remains in traditional planar-transistor NAND devices, 3D NAND technology will not be rushed into the marketplace. The timing of a full-scale transition from 2D to 3D NAND memory depends a great deal on the point at which 3D becomes a cost-effective option to 2D, and that situation is still a ways off. Even when the cost crossover point is reached, 2D and 3D NAND will likely coexist for several years. For about the past 10 years, DRAM devices have been a generation or more behind NAND flash memories when it comes to process technology, if the minimum geometry of each process is used for comparison. Leading DRAM makers are currently manufacturing at volume production using 20nm-class feature sizes (between 20-29nm). DRAM and NAND processes are less similar than one might think, and each has its own figures of merit and scaling limitations. Nevertheless, NAND has generally been considered the more advanced of the two memory technologies ever since Samsung announced in 2003 that NAND had taken over for DRAM as the driver of the company’s memory-related process advancements. Like NAND flash, DRAM technology is also migrating toward integrating circuitry in the vertical direction, but the 3D technology pertaining to DRAMs is different than that of NAND flash. In general, 3D technology for DRAMs involves the creation of stacks of DRAM chips interconnected using thru-silicon vias (TSVs). One example of a 3D DRAM solution is the Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC), developed by the consortium of the same name. The Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium was founded by Micron and Samsung and includes other developer members Altera, ARM, IBM, Open-Silicon, SK Hynix, and Xilinx. DRAM consumption for mobile and server applications has been on the rise in recent years, prompting suppliers to develop creative techniques to extend the life of this memory technology. Between 2010 and 2014, three generations of Intel server processors have been introduced with the 22nm Haswell (the most current offering) featuring up to 15 cores and integrated high-speed memory controllers that can support up to 6TB (terabytes) of DRAM. Intel’s Haswell has the capability to address three times as much memory compared to its 32nm Westmere processor in 2012 and five times as much memory compared to its 45nm Nehalem processor in 2010, which is one of the big reasons why DRAM suppliers are busy working to boost chip density and performance (speed) of their new DRAM devices.
EUV photoresist company Inpria raises $31 million in funding Inpria, a pioneer in high-resolution metal oxide photoresists for extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV), has secured USD 31 million in Series C funding from a broad syndicate including two of the biggest names within the semiconductor manufacturing space.
Semiconductor industry avoids direct impact of coronavirus The semiconductor industry appears to have escaped the direct impact of the coronavirus crisis so far, but the market is likely to suffer the repercussions as the outbreak slows or suspends production among electronics manufacturers, according to Omdia.
Plessey partners with Axus Technology Plessey, an embedded technologies developer, is partnering with Axus Technology (Axus), a provider of CMP, wafer thinning and wafer polishing surface-processing solutions for semiconductor applications, to bring high-performance GaN-on-Silicon monolithic microLED technology to the mass market.
GPV Electronics CN resumes production On 19 February 2020, the Chinese Central Government informed that all enterprises in the Guangdong province are now allowed to resume production.
Nano Dimension moves its main commercial activity to USA Nano Dimension announces that the company is establishing its headquarters for the Americas in South Florida.
Rockwell Automation inks deal for Italy’s ASEM Rockwell Automation Inc. has signed a purchase agreement to acquire digital automation technologies provider ASEM S.p.A.
IFR releases ‘Top Trends 2020 Robotics’ The International Federation of Robots (IFR) has forecasted an uptick of 2 million industrial factory robotic units in the next two years.
Paslin, Rivian fuel EV factory expansion The Paslin Company, a builder of robotic assembly lines for Tier 1 suppliers and OEM auto companies, is expanding in Warren, Michigan.
Nokia plans to acquire US-based company The Finnish telecom company is planning to acquire Elenion Technologies, a U.S.-based company focusing on silicon photonics technology.
neutec electronic to handle Asymtek and Dima in Switzerland Asymtek, a part of Nordson Electronics Solutions - announces that their distributor, neutec electronic AG, has expanded its representation of all Asymtek and DIMA products to the French-speaking areas of Switzerland.
BMZ subsidiary Poland reports successful business year 2019 BMZ Poland, the second largest production site of the BMZ Group, is expanding its production area and is reporting 10% sales growth and thereby reached record results for the business year 2019.
Scanfil CEO: ‘Our operations are making good progress’ The last quarter of 2019 was the strongest one for the EMS provider. Scanfil recorded a turnover of EUR 155 million, a growth of EUR 15 million or 10% year-over-year.
Prime Technological Services acquire ITS EMS provider Prime Technological Services LLC has acquired Georgia-based I Technical Services (ITS).
Florida’s Sypris snags BAE Systems contract Sypris Electronics LLC, a subsidiary of Sypris Solutions Inc., has won a contract award from London-based BAE Systems’ Electronic Systems sector.
Into the future, San Diego style IPC APEX EXPO, the North American electronics manufacturing industry’s biggest gig, has left the teenage years behind with this year’s 20th anniversary show held Feb 3-8 in San Diego.
5 semiconductor companies hold 53% of global wafer capacity The world’s top-five wafer capacity leaders each had capacity of more than 1,000,000 wafer starts per month, says IC Insights.
Global DRAM revenue holds steady in 4Q19 The DRAM inventory finally returned to a relatively normal level for most OEMs in 4Q19 after nearly three consecutive quarters of adjustments, says the DRAMeXchange research division of TrendForce.
Mitsubishi Electric completes new satellite production facility Mitsubishi Electric has completed construction of a new facility for the production of satellites at the company’s Kamakura Works in Kamakura, Japan.
ISS-Broadband delivered by Kongsberg Kongsberg equipment is to enable broadband transmission for the International Space Station (ISS) to 'significantly improve communication between the ESA astronauts manning the station and earth.
Mycronic receives order for an SLX mask writer Swedish equipment provider, Mycronic AB, has received an order for the new SLX mask writer from a customer in Asia. The customer already has mask writers from Mycronic.
A new production unit for mirror segments for ELT Safran's new production unit at the company's Saint-Benoît facility near Poitiers in central France will make the primary mirror segments for Europe's Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).
A more sustainable approach to semiconductor manufacturing Reuse; that is the key to driving environmental sustainability in global semiconductor manufacturing, says Steven Zhou, CEO of Moov Technologies.Load more news