Flash buddies Intel and Micron have today announced a significant breakthrough in terms of NAND density, the first 128 Gb (16 GB) MLC NAND memory chip. Manufactured on 20 nm process technology, this 128 Gb chip complies with the ONFI 3.0 specification (enabling speeds of up to 333 megatransfers per second) and can be used for new, high-capacity solid state drives, as well as for next-generation tablets, smartphones and other portable devices. According to Intel and Micron, this milestone was made possible by the use of a new, innovative cell structure that 'breaks the scaling constraints of the standard NAND floating gate cell by integrating the first Hi-K/metal gate stack on NAND production.' "It is gratifying to see the continued NAND leadership from the Intel-Micron joint development with yet more firsts as our manufacturing teams deliver these high-density, low-cost, compute-quality 20 nm NAND devices," said Rob Crooke, Intel vice president and general manager of Intel's Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group. "Through the utilization of planar cell structure and Hi-K/Metal gate stack, IMFT continues to advance the technological capabilities of our NAND flash memory solutions to enable exciting new products, services and form factors." IM Flash Technologies (the NAND joint venture of Intel and Micron) will have samples of the 128 Gb MLC chip in January and expects to start mass production in the first half of next year. In the mean time, the JV has ramped up mass production of its 64 Gb 20 nm NAND memory.