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Engineers Upgrade Soldered Components on Apple M1 Mac Mini

The Apple M1 processor features integrated memory directly on the chip to reduce latency, power, and size. While this design may be good for the overall user experience it does not bode well for upgradability requiring users to pay up for a more expensive model. Some Chinese engineers have recently shown how it is possible to upgrade the soldered memory and storage components given you have the time, skills, and money. The DRAM and NAND chips are soldered to the M1 chip and motherboard but can be removed and replaced with higher capacity chips using a specialty soldering station. The engineers upgraded the base model M1 Mac Mini with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage to 16 GB RAM and 1 TB storage. The upgrade didn't require firmware modifications according to the source which is very impressive if true.

SK Hynix Envisions the Future: 600-Layer 3D NAND and EUV-made DRAM

On March 22nd, the CEO of SK Hynix, Seok-Hee Lee, gave a keynote speech to the IEEE International Reliability Physics Symposium (IRPS) and shared with experts a part of its plan for the future of SK Hynix products. The CEO took the stage and delivered some conceptual technologies that the company is working on right now. At the center of the show, two distinct products stood out - 3D NAND and DRAM. So far, the company has believed that its 3D NAND scaling was very limited and that it can push up to 500 layers sometime in the future before the limit is reached. However, according to the latest research, SK Hynix will be able to produce 600-layer 3D NAND technology in the distant future.

So far, the company has managed to manufacture and sample 512Gb 176-layer 3D NAND chips, so the 600-layer solutions are still far away. Nonetheless, it is a possibility that we are looking at. Before we reach that layer number, there are various problems needed to be solved so the technology can work. According to SK Hynix, "the company introduced the atomic layer deposition (ALD) technology to further improve the cell property of efficiently storing electric charges and exporting them when needed, while developing technology to maintain uniform electric charges over a certain amount through the innovation of dielectric materials. In addition to this, to solve film stress issues, the mechanical stress levels of films is controlled and the cell oxide-nitride (ON) material is being optimized. To deal with the interference phenomenon between cells and charge loss that occur when more cells are stacked at a limited height, SK Hynix developed the isolated-charge trap nitride (isolated-CTN) structure to enhance reliability."

NAND Flash Contract Prices Projected to Increase by 3-8% QoQ in 2Q21 Due to Easing of Oversupply, Says TrendForce

With Samsung, YMTC, SK Hynix, and Intel leading the charge, NAND Flash suppliers will maintain an aggressive effort to expand their production capacities throughout 2Q21, during which NAND Flash bit output will likely increase by nearly 10% QoQ, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. On the other hand, orders from PC OEMs and Chinese smartphone brands since 1Q21, as well as recovering procurement activities from clients in the data center segment during 2Q21, will generate upward momentum propelling NAND Flash bit demand. Furthermore, buyers are actively stocking up on finished products, such as SSDs and eMMC, due to persistently limited NAND Flash controller supply. TrendForce therefore expects NAND Flash contract prices to increase by an average of 3-8% QoQ in 2Q21 after experiencing a 5-10% decline QoQ in 1Q21. In particular, as Samsung's Line S2 fab in Austin has yet to resume full operation after the Texas winter storm, the supply of NAND Flash controllers going forward may be at risk, and Samsung's ability to manufacture client SSDs will be further constrained as a result. In light of these factors, TrendForce is not ruling out the possibility that NAND Flash contract prices may increase by even more than current forecasts.

Prices of Client SSDs for Notebook Computers to Enter Early Uptrend in 2Q21 with 3-8% Increase QoQ, Says TrendForce

Demand for notebook computers is expected to remain strong throughout 2Q21 due to the persisting stay-at-home economy that arose in the wake of the pandemic, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In response to the high demand for notebooks, PC OEMs are actively raising a consistent inventory of components, including client SSDs. Nonetheless, client SSDs are now in increasingly tight supply because the preexisting shortage of NAND Flash controllers is now exacerbated by the power outage at Samsung's Austin-based semiconductor plant. SSD manufacturers are therefore preparing to raise the prices of SSDs. Accordingly, TrendForce has also revised up its forecast of client SSD prices for 2Q21 from "mostly flat" to a 3-8% increase QoQ instead.

DRAM Revenue for 4Q20 Undergoes Modest 1.1% Increase QoQ in Light of Continued Rising Shipment and Falling Prices, Says TrendForce

Global DRAM revenue reached US$17.65 billion, a 1.1% increase YoY, in 4Q20, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. For the most part, this growth took place because Chinese smartphone brands, including Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi, expanded their procurement activities for components in order to seize the market shares made available after Huawei was added to the Entity List by the U.S. Department of Commerce. These procurement activities in turn provided upward momentum for DRAM suppliers' bit shipment. However, clients in the server segment were still in the middle of inventory adjustments during this period, thereby placing downward pressure on DRAM prices. As a result, revenues of most DRAM suppliers, except for Micron, remained somewhat unchanged in 4Q20 compared to 3Q20. Micron underwent a noticeable QoQ decline in 4Q20 (which Micron counts as its fiscal 1Q21), since Micron had fewer work weeks during this period compared to the previous quarter.

Explosive Growth in Automotive DRAM Demand Projected to Surpass 30% CAGR in Next Three Years, Says TrendForce

Driven by such factors as the continued development of autonomous driving technologies and the build-out of 5G infrastructure, the demand for automotive memories will undergo a rapid growth going forward, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Take Tesla, which is the automotive industry leader in the application of autonomous vehicle technologies, as an example. Tesla has adopted GDDR5 DRAM products from the Model S and X onward because it has also adopted Nvidia's solutions for CPU and GPU. The GDDR5 series had the highest bandwidth at the time to complement these processors. The DRAM content has therefore reached at least 8 GB for vehicles across all model series under Tesla. The Model 3 is further equipped with 14 GB of DRAM, and the next-generation of Tesla vehicles will have 20 GB. If content per box is used as a reference for comparison, then Tesla far surpasses manufacturers of PCs and smartphones in DRAM consumption. TrendForce forecasts that the average DRAM content of cars will continue to grow in the next three years, with a CAGR of more than 30% for the period.

Silicon Motion: PCIe 5.0 SSD Controller to Arrive Next Year

With the debut of PCIe 4.0 standard, SSD manufacturers have started launching a new generation of storage devices, with unseen speeds before. Today's PCIe 4.0 SSDs can reach up to 8.0 GB/s reads and writes, all thanks to the bandwidth-heavy PCIe protocol. However, enterprise workloads are always requiring more and more bandwidth to satisfy their needs. Data is being moved in immense quantities and faster hardware is always welcome. The previous PCIe 4.0 standard is about to kneel to its successor - PCIe 5.0 protocol. Having double the amount of bandwidth, the new standard is set to bring unseen speeds.

The PCIe 5.0 protocol offers 32 GT/s per lane, making up to 64 GB/s in the full x16 implementation. However, when it comes to SSDs, as they use x4 lanes, it will increase the maximum speed to 16 GB/s, doubling the previous bandwidth. Silicon Motion, the maker of NAND flash controllers, has announced that the company is going to debut a PCIe 5.0 controller next year. "We are excited about enterprise-grade PCIe Gen5 controller, which we will have taped out early next year and sample in the second half of 2022", said Wallace Kuo, chief executive of Silicon Motion, during a conference call. Launching just in time to pair with Intel's Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors that support the PCIe 5.0 protocol, Silicon Motion is probably expecting to grab its market share there.

NAND Flash Wafer Prices Stabilize Due to High SSD Demand from PC OEMs, Says TrendForce

NAND Flash demand continues to rise as strong sales of notebook (laptop) computers spur PC OEMs to place additional orders for client SSDs, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Also, the supply-side inventory for NAND Flash memory has already fallen considerably due to the aggressive stock-up activities of some smartphone brands. With customers in the data center segment expected to ramp up procurement in 2Q21, NAND Flash suppliers have decided to scale back the supply of NAND Flash wafers. Compared with other product categories, wafers have a lower gross margin. As a result of these factors, the decline in contract prices of wafers has been easing over the past two months (i.e., from December of last year to January of this year).

Phison Now Offering Industry-Best Secure SSD Solutions with FIPS 140-2 Certification

Phison Electronics Corp., a global leader in NAND Flash controller integrated circuits and storage solutions, announced today that it is now shipping secure SSD solutions with FIPS 140-2 Certification. In today's world, consumer and corporate data are vulnerable to attacks by hackers, viruses and even rogue governments staging cyber-attacks. Phison has recognized these security issues and addressed these threats by implementing FIPS 140-2 security technology in SATA and PCIe product lines.

Phison provided technical support for their customizable SSD solutions during the Cryptographic Module Validation Program (CMVP) process. Companies have to pass it in order to list themselves as the validated cryptographic module vendor. Because Phison has FIPS 140-2 certified solutions, our customers can now choose to leverage existing validated Phison modules so they can reduce the time and effort spent on FIPS validation of their own.

Micron Technology Reports Results for the First Quarter of Fiscal 2021

Micron Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: MU) today announced results for its first quarter of fiscal 2021, which ended Dec. 3, 2020. "Micron delivered outstanding fiscal first quarter results, driven by focused execution and strong end-market demand," said Micron Technology President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra. "We are excited about the strengthening DRAM industry fundamentals. For the first time in our history, Micron is simultaneously leading on DRAM and NAND technologies, and we are in an excellent position to benefit from accelerating digital transformation of the global economy fueled by AI, 5G, cloud, and the intelligent edge."

Foresee Announces High-Stability eMMC Solutions

Embedded storage has gradually matured over its years of development. However, as technology has developed, market demands towards the stability of embedded storage products has also increased. Only by improving their products and technologies and pushing the boundaries of technology can storage enterprises weather the storm of the rapidly changing market.

In 2020, FORESEE, Longsys' embedded storage brand, launched a compact eMMC packaged in BGA 153, with dimensions of only 9.0 x 7.5 x 0.8 mm. This is in stark contrast to the standard dimensions of 11.5x13x1.2 mm. The operating temperature ranges from -25°C to 85°C, reaching the standards seen in industrial-grade products, and the maximum capacity can reach up to 64 GB. It meets all market requirements for high performance, low power consumption, slimness, and multiple capacities, and satisfies the needs of terminal equipment such as tablets, smart phones, smart speakers, dash cams, and smart watches.

Prices of NAND Flash Controller ICs Poised to Rise by 15-20% due to Tightening Production Capacity for Foundry Services, Says TrendForce

In the upstream semiconductor industry, the major foundries such as TSMC and UMC are reporting fully loaded capacities, while in the downstream, the available production capacity for OSAT is also lacking, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Given this situation, suppliers of NAND Flash controller ICs such as Phison and Silicon Motion are now unable to meet upside demand from their clients. Not only have many controller IC suppliers temporarily stopped offering quotes for new orders, but they are also even considering raising prices soon because the negotiations between NAND Flash suppliers and module houses over 1Q21 contracts are now at the critical juncture. The potential increases in prices of controller ICs from outsourced suppliers (IC design houses) are currently estimated to be the range of 15-20%.

With regards to the demand side, demand has risen significantly for eMMC solutions with medium- and low-density specifications (i.e., 64 GB and lower), for which NAND Flash suppliers have mostly stopped updating the NAND Flash process technology, while maintaining support with the legacy 2D NAND or the 64L 3D NAND process. This is on account of strong sales for Chromebook devices and TVs. As older processes gradually account for a lowering portion of bit output proportions from NAND Flash suppliers, these companies are exhibiting a lowered willingness to directly supply such eMMC products to clients. As a result, clients now need to turn to memory module houses, which are able to source NAND Flash components and controllers, to procure eMMC products in substantial quantities.

XPG Launches SPECTRIX S20G PCIe Gen3x4 M.2 2280 Solid State Drive

XPG, a fast-growing provider of systems, components, and peripherals for Gamers, Esports Pros, and Tech Enthusiasts, today announces the XPG SPECTRIX S20G PCIe Gen3x4 M.2 2280 solid state drive (SSD). The SPECTRIX S20G is an SSD built with form and performance in mind with its distinct x-shaped RBG lighting and excellent read/write speeds.

The XPG SPECTRIX S20G is a gaming SSD through and through and its styling reflects this. It sports a distinctive and prominent x-shaped RGB design that outshines the competition. The RGB light effects can be customized via software. What's more, a hairline-brushed finish gives the SSD a formidable yet elegant look that will intimidate and impress.

Oversupply to Continue Affecting NAND Flash Prices, with 10-15% QoQ Decline Expected in 1Q21, Says TrendForce

The percentage distribution of 2021 NAND Flash bit demand by application currently shows that client SSD accounts for 31%, enterprise SSD 20%, eMMC/UFS 41%, and NAND wafer 8%, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. TrendForce expects NAND Flash ASP to undergo QoQ declines throughout 2021, since the number of NAND suppliers far exceeds DRAM suppliers, and the bit supply remains high. As Samsung, YMTC, SK Hynix, and Intel actively expand their NAND Flash bit output in 1Q21, the oversupply situation in the industry will become more severe, with a forecasted 6% QoQ increase in NAND Flash bit output and a 10-15% QoQ decline in NAND Flash ASP in 1Q21.

DRAM ASP to Recover from Decline in 1Q21, with Potential for Slight Growth, Says TrendForce

The DRAM market exhibits a healthier and more balanced supply/demand relationship compared with the NAND Flash market because of its oligopolistic structure, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. The percentage distribution of DRAM supply bits by application currently shows that PC DRAM accounts for 13%, server DRAM 34%, mobile DRAM 40%, graphics DRAM 5%, and consumer DRAM (or specialty DRAM) 8%. Looking ahead to 1Q21, the DRAM market by then will have gone through an inventory adjustment period of slightly more than two quarters. Memory buyers will also be more willing to stock up because they want to reduce the risk of future price hikes. Therefore, DRAM prices on the whole will be constrained from falling further. The overall ASP of DRAM products is now forecasted to stay generally flat or slightly up for 1Q21.

SK hynix Unveils the Industry's Most Multilayered 176-Layer 4D NAND Flash

SK hynix Inc. announced the completion of developing the industry's most multilayered 176-layer 512 Gigabit (Gb) Triple-Level Cell (TLC) 4D NAND flash. The Company provided the samples to controller companies last month to make a solution product.

SK hynix has been promoting 4D technology from the 96-layer NAND flash products that combine Charge Trap Flash (CTF) with high-integrated Peri. Under Cell (PUC) technology. The new 176-layer NAND flash is the third generation 4D product that secures the industry's best number of chips per wafer. This allows the bit productivity to be improved by 35% compared to the previous generation with the differentiated cost competitiveness. The read speed of cell increased by 20% over the previous generation adopting 2-division cell array selection technology. The data transfer speed also has been improved by 33% to 1.6 Gbps adopting speed-up technology without increasing the number of processes.

Greenliant Ultra High Endurance Storage Solutions Enable High Reliability Systems

Greenliant has secured major design wins with its EnduroSLC solid state drives (SSDs) in a wide range of demanding, extreme environment applications for customers that need best-in-class reliability and product longevity. Greenliant's proprietary EnduroSLC Technology substantially enhances data retention and extends the write endurance of 1-bit-per-cell SSDs with advanced hardware ECC capabilities and NAND flash management algorithms. EnduroSLC SSDs not only offer superior data retention capabilities under complex temperature conditions, but also support 50K, 100K and industry-leading, ultra high 250K+ program-erase (P/E) cycles, which are at least a 5x improvement over pseudo-SLC (pSLC) SSDs and a 50x improvement over MLC NAND-based products.

For systems that are in remote locations and costly to maintain-from satellite to subsea communications-customers recognize the value of EnduroSLC SSDs; they can reliably operate and retain data for long periods of time in harsh conditions. Long-life, write-intensive products, such as transportation black box recorders and industrial data loggers, have also benefitted from the enhanced features of EnduroSLC SSDs. EnduroSLC storage products are designed with Greenliant's advanced SATA, NVMe PCIe and eMMC controllers, operate at industrial temperatures (-40 to +85 degrees Celsius) and are backed by the company's Long-Term Availability program (http://bit.ly/SSD-LTA-program), providing an extra level of support.

NAND Flash Revenue for 3Q20 up by Only 0.3% QoQ Owing to Weak Server Sales, Says TrendForce

Total NAND Flash revenue reached US$14.5 billion in 3Q20, a 0.3% increase QoQ, while total NAND Flash bit shipment rose by 9% QoQ, but the ASP fell by 9% QoQ, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. The market situation in 3Q20 can be attributed to the rising demand from the consumer electronics end as well as the recovering smartphone demand before the year-end peak sales season. Notably, in the PC market, the rise of distance education contributed to the growing number and scale of Chromebook tenders, but the increase in the demand for Chromebook devices has not led to a significant increase in NAND Flash consumption because storage capacity is rather limited for this kind of notebook computer. Moreover, clients in the server and data center segments had aggressively stocked up on components and server barebones during 2Q20 due to worries about the impact of the pandemic on the supply chain. Hence, their inventories reached a fairly high level by 3Q20. Clients are now under pressure to control and reduce their inventories during this second half of the year. With them scaling back procurement, the overall NAND Flash demand has also weakened, leading to a downward turn in the contract prices of most NAND Flash products.

Silicon Motion Announces SM8266 16-channel PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD Controller

Silicon Motion Technology Corporation, a global leader in designing and marketing NAND flash controllers for solid-state storage devices, today announced the SM8266, a complete enterprise-grade 16-channel PCIe 4.0 NVMe hardware plus firmware turnkey SSD controller solution. Customers can rapidly develop and bring to market enterprise SSDs for data centers by using our complete development platform that includes a turnkey NVMe firmware stack and hardware reference design kit.

"Our solution is the only complete PCIe Gen4 turnkey solution available today from an established merchant controller supplier," said Nelson Duann, Silicon Motion's Senior Vice President of Marketing and R&D. "Since the introduction of our PCIe Gen3 turnkey solution, we have established a longer track record of supplying turnkey solutions in terms of customer adoption and sale volume than any other company. Our Shannon Systems team is already custom designing enterprise-grade NVMe, Open-Channel and Key-Value SSDs using SM8266 for hyperscale customers' data centers with production expected in 2021."

NEO Semiconductor X-NAND Standard Offers Performance Comparable to SLC at Costs of QLC, Wins FMS 2020 Best of Show

NEO Semiconductor was honored with a Flash Memory Summit 2020 Best of Show Award for Hardware Architecture at today's Flash Memory Summit 2020 Best of Show Awards ceremony. The Flash Memory Summit, the World's largest and most prestigious storage industry conference and exposition, recognizes NEO Semiconductor's X-NAND product solution.

"5G, robotics, virtual reality and AI applications demand the highest level of performance in order to meet the service level objectives of business-critical data center workloads," said Jay Kramer, Chairman of the Awards Program and President of Network Storage Advisors Inc. "We are proud to recognize NEO Semiconductor X-NAND product solution for providing an excellent high-performance solution that can uniquely lower the cost across all tiers of SSD technologies."

Micron Ships World's First 176-Layer 3D NAND Flash Memory

Micron today announced that it has begun volume shipments of the world's first 176-layer 3D NAND flash memory, achieving unprecedented, industry-pioneering density and performance. Together, Micron's new 176-layer technology and advanced architecture represent a radical breakthrough, enabling immense gains in application performance across a range of storage use cases spanning data center, intelligent edge and mobile devices.

"Micron's 176-layer NAND sets a new bar for the industry, with a layer count that is almost 40% higher than our nearest competitor's," said Scott DeBoer, executive vice president of technology and products at Micron. "Combined with Micron's CMOS-under-array architecture, this technology sustains Micron's industry cost leadership."

SK hynix Inc. Reports Third Quarter 2020 Results

SK hynix Inc. today announced financial results for its third quarter 2020 ended on September 30, 2020. The consolidated revenue of third quarter 2020 was 8.129 trillion won while the operating profit amounted to 1.3 trillion won, and the net income 1.078 trillion won. Operating margin for the quarter was 16% and net margin was 13%.

Despite the Company saw the recovery of mobile DRAM demand in the quarter, both the revenue and operating profit decreased by 6% and 33% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) respectively, as the server DRAM and SSD demands weakened, and the overall semiconductor memory price flow turned downwards in the quarter. For DRAM, SK hynix proactively responded to rising demands of mobile and graphics DRAM, and the expansion of consumer electronics DRAM demand as well. As a result, in spite of decreased server DRAM demand, the Company's DRAM bit shipment in the quarter still increased by 4% QoQ. However, due to the unfavorable price of server DRAM and other certain DRAM products, the average selling price decreased by 7% QoQ.

SSD Prices Expected To Fall 10-15% in Q4 2020

The memory market is expected to remain in a state of oversupply during Q4 2020 for both DRAM and NAND flash according to a new report from TrendForce. This oversupply will mean ~10% lower prices for memory in Q4 2020 with further price drops in 2021, this will result in falling SSD prices of 10-15%. These price drops in the consumer market will likely result in the lowest SSD pricing seen to date. These reductions were mainly driven by Huawei losing access to foreign DRAM and NAND memory which wasn't fully taken up by other smartphone manufacturers leading to an access of supply. These lower SSD prices will help accelerate the decline of HDDs in consumer devices as price parity gets closer.

Intel Enters Strategic Collaboration with Lightbits Labs

Intel Corp. and Lightbits Labs today announced an agreement to propel development of disaggregated storage solutions to solve the challenges of today's data center operators who are craving improved total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) due to stranded disk capacity and performance. This strategic partnership includes technical co-engineering, go-to-market collaboration and an Intel Capital investment in Lightbits Labs. Lightbits' LightOS product delivers high-performance shared storage across servers while providing high availability and read-and-write management designed to maximize the value of flash-based storage. LightOS, while being fully optimized for Intel hardware, provides customers with vastly improved storage efficiency and reduces underutilization while maintaining compatibility with existing infrastructure without compromising performance and simplicity.

Lightbits Labs will enhance its composable disaggregated software-defined storage solution, LightOS, for Intel technologies, creating an optimized software and hardware solution. The system will utilize Intel Optane persistent memory and Intel 3D NAND SSDs based on Intel QLC Technology, Intel Xeon Scalable processors with unique built-in artificial intelligence (AI) acceleration capabilities and Intel Ethernet 800 Series Network Adapters with Application Device Queues (ADQ) technology. Intel's leadership FPGAs for next-generation performance, flexibility and programmability will complement the solution.

YMTC Announces PC005 M.2 NVMe and SC001 SATA SSDs

Yangtze Memory Technology Company (YMTC), China's ambitious new memory manufacturer specializing in NAND flash, launched the first client-segment SSDs under its own brand, the PC005 Active series and the SC001 Active series. Rumors of YMTC developing its own brand SSDs surfaced first in June. Prior to that in May, it was reported that Phison could add support for YMTC NAND flash chips to variants of its existing SSD controllers, and so it's highly likely that the new YMTC SSDs use Phison-sourced controllers. Interestingly, the company deployed its first-generation Xtracking 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash chips instead of its 2nd generation 128-layer QLC chips.

The PC005 Active comes in the M.2-2280 form-factor with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 host interface, leveraging the NVMe 1.3 protocol. The drive is available in 1 TB. 512 GB, and 256 GB capacities. All three variants read sequentially at speeds of up to 3,500 MB/s, wiring at up to 2,900 MB/s, up to 2,500 MB/s, and up to 1,200 MB/s, respectively. Their endurance is rated at 640 TBW for the 1 TB version, 320 TBW for the 512 GB, and 200 TBW for the 256 GB variant. All three are backed by 5-year warranties.
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