Micron and Intel have thrown down the gauntlet to market leader Samsung by announcing they have started sampling the world’s first Nand Flash memory built using a 50 nanometre (nm) production process.
The breakthrough has come through IM Flash Technologies, the joint company set up by Intel and Micron in November last year.
The reduction in size will potentially allow both companies to cram more memory onto a smaller device, giving them a chance of reducing Samsung’s dominant 50 per cent market share. Micron is ranked fourth in the Nand Flash market, but Intel is a newcomer, despite its strength in the Nor Flash arena.
The first chips to be produced are 4GB modules that will be available in small quantities until mass production starts in 2007. Until now, Micron has built Flash using 72nm technology, while Samsung has been using its 60nm process.
Brian Shirley, vice-president of memory at Micron, said: “We entered the Nand business in 2004 using a 90nm process. In a few short years and through our collaboration with Intel, we are poised to introduce a leading product based on a cutting-edge process technology. We will continue our commitment to Nand with a rapid transition to the 50nm process and through continued work on advanced nodes for the introduction of even higher-density products.”
Brian Harrison, vice-president of the Flash memory group at Intel, said: “Our entry into the Nand Flash business has been fast. We started shipping products to customers in the first quarter of this year, and we’re seeing very high demand across multiple Flash densities. Working with Micron, we are poised to transition to the 50nm process technology and beyond.”
Both companies might have an edge on the technology front, but Samsung recently announced the first 8GB Flash products and has pledged to double its chip densities every year. According to iSuppli, the Nand Flash market will be worth $14.7bn this year, up from $10.7bn in 2005.
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