Toshiba is planning to start the manufacturing of the world’s first 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory chips in the third quarter of this year with Samsung Electronics being expected to release the same type of products in the following quarter.
The world’s first 3D NAND memory chip was manufactured by Samsung Electronics in 2013. It is characterized by vertical stacking of data storage cells, which results in significantly improved memory capacity and speed compared to flash memories. A 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory chip, in particular, has an important significance in that it exceeds the productivity and performance of planar NAND flash memory to a large extent whereas the costs per capacity of 24-, 32- and 48-layer chips exceed that of planar NAND flash memory. Industry experts have pointed out that the advent of a 64-layer chip will mark the end of the era of planar memory.
3DToshiba began to manufacture 3D NAND chips this past spring and it has chased Samsung Electronics at a rapid pace since then. The Japanese company is also planning to boost the ratio of 3D NAND production by investing five trillion won or so. Specifically, the ratio is to be increased from 0% to 50% between last year and next year and then to at least 80% in 2018.
According to semiconductor industry experts, Toshiba still has some way to go to overtake Samsung Electronics. Both companies are producing 3D NAND chips based on charge trap flash, but their difference lies in control gate production. To be more specific, Samsung Electronics stacks control gates in a vertical direction and uses TANOS whereas Toshiba uses SONOS. It is said that Toshiba’s method is advantageous in terms of the number of stacked layers but disadvantageous in process simplicity and productivity.