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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.

NAND Flash Revenue Rises 6.5% QoQ in 2Q20 Due to Pandemic-Induced Demand Growth for Cloud Services, Says TrendForce

The NAND Flash industry benefitted from strong demand for PCs and servers in 2Q20 as the COVID-19 pandemic caused a demand surge for cloud services and technologies that are related to working from home, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. This, in turn, kept demand high for SSDs. However, the smartphone and consumer electronics markets had not recovered from the impact of the pandemic. The demand for these products therefore declined compared to the previous quarter. In 2Q20, total NAND Flash bit shipment and ASP both experienced a minor increase of about 3% QoQ, while NAND Flash revenue reached US$14.5 billion, a 6.5% increase QoQ.

YMTC to Launch its Own SSD Brand Soon

YMTC (Yangtze Memory Technologies Corp) could launch its own SSD brand soon, according to a DigiTimes report. The Mainland Chinese NAND flash maker, which is taking giant strides with the development of NAND flash memory, could join Micron, SK Hynix, Kioxia, and Samsung, in being NAND flash vendors with their own finished SSD product lines on the side.

The SSD brand could be announced in Q3-2020, and could implement the company's 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory in some of its first drives, moving on to 128-layer NAND flash chips next, as the company has pole-vaulted 96-layer. With Phison coming out with support for YMTC chips, it's likely that the company could get a break with these drives. YMTC is one of the rising stars of China's domestic high-technology industry, and a beneficiary of state investment as part of the Chinese Government's plan to eliminate dependency on foreign computer hardware as part of its "3-5-2 plan."

Phison Announces Support for YMTC 128-layer and 64-layer 3D NAND Flash Memory

SSD controller manufacturer Phison Electronics announced that its entire lineup of controllers are compatible with 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory chips by Yangtze Memory Technology Company (YMTC), the Chinese semiconductor firm specializing in memory devices, which is in the news for rapid product portfolio development in aid of China's plans to reduce dependence on foreign technology.

The company also announced readiness for YMTC's upcoming 128-layer 3D NAND flash memory chips. Phison's controllers feature industry-standard NAND flash interfaces, and supporting YMTC's chips would be as simple as developing an optimized firmware. YMTC leapfrogged from 64- to 128-layer, skipping the 96-layer product cycle. YMTC's 64-layer chips have been in mass-production since September 2019, and 128-layer chips will start shipping out later this year. Phison's first collaboration with YMTC will be for client-segment products, before developing enterprise-grade drives.

Intel Ready with 144-layer 3D NAND On its Own, Talks 4-layer 3DXP, "Alder Stream" and "Keystone Harbor"

Intel's memory and storage products division now has a completely independent NAND flash technology development team post its split with Micron Technology, with which it was part of the IMFlash Technologies joint-venture. Intel is close to gaining a technological lead over Micron with a new 144-layer 3D NAND flash chip which will ship roughly around the time Micron begins pushing out its 128-layer 3D NAND chips. SK Hynix will begin shipping its 128-layer 3D NAND flash chips later this year. KIOXIA will put out 112-layer chips before the turn of the year. YMTC is developing its portfolio at a breakneck pace.

The 144-layer 3D NAND flash chip by Intel can handle up to four bits per cell (QLC), and can be configured to function as TLC or SLC, at lower densities. Intel will launch its first SSD based on this 144-layer QLC NAND flash chip, codenamed "Keystone Harbor," later this year. Development is underway at Intel for PLC (5 bits per cell) technology, which should drive up densities by 25 percent. Intel is also close to launching its second generation 3D X-point memory technology.

China's Yangtze Memory Technologies' 64L Xtacking NAND Competitive Against Mainstream Manufacturers' Solutions

China's plans for world domination include the country slowly retracting itself from its dependency on western companies' technologies, via heavy acceleration of plans for and production of a myriad of semiconductor technologies. One of the more important technologies amongst those due to its relative ease of manufacture and overall market value is, of course, NAND technology. And the days of China being undoubtedly behind other manufacturers' technologies seems to be coming to an end, with the countries' Yangtze Memory Technologies (YMTC) 64-layer Xtacking TLC NAND design already achieving pretty impressive results compared to its mainstream counterparts.

Xtacking technology is expected to disrupt the $52 billion NAND memory market and its big players such as Micron, Samsung, SK Hynix, Kioxia, Western Digital, and Intel. The technology separates periphery circuits and memory cell operations towards a separate wafer, which allows for increased performance and throughput compared to other designs. Senior technical fellow Jeongdong Choe at Ottawa, Canada-based TechInsights (a company specializing in reverse-engineering semiconductor technology) has told EE Times YMTC's 64-layer, 256 Gb die bit density is 4.41 Gb/mm, which is higher than the Samsung equivalent 256 Gb die at 3.42 Gb/mm.
Cross-section SEM image along BL direction showing YMTC Xtacking architecture Objective Analysis’ annual report, China’s Memory Ambitions 2019

YMTC to Supply NAND Flash Chips to Lexar

Mainland Chinese semiconductor firm Yangtze Memory Technologies Co (YMTC), has reportedly struck a NAND flash memory chip supply deal with popular solid-state storage products brand Lexar, which specializes in SSDs, memory cards, and USB flash drives; and more importantly, enjoys a prominent market presence in the West. Micron Technology had, in 2017, sold the Lexar brand to Longsys, a Chinese electronics conglomerate. YMTC's first products sold to Lexar will be a 512 Gbit 128-layer 3D QLC NAND flash memory chip for Lexar's nCard line of microSDXC cards, which ships in 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB densities, offering transfer speeds of up to 90 MB/s reads, with up to 70 MB/s writes.

Samsung Developing 160-layer 3D NAND Flash Memory

Samsung Electronics is reportedly developing its 7th generation V-NAND memory with ultra-high 3D stacking technology. The first model will feature at least 160 layers, subsequent models will feature more. In early signs of the company not wanting to yield the technological initiative to China's YMTC, the first 160-layer V-NAND by Samsung is slated to come out roughly around the time YMTC's 128-layer 3D NAND flash hits mass production, towards the end of 2020.

At the heart of the ultra-high 3D stack is Samsung's proprietary Double Stack technology. The double-stack technology creates electron holes at two separate times for current to go through circuits. The current-generation single-stack chips creates these holes once throughout the stack per cycle. The 160-layer NAND flash is expected to herald a 67% increase in densities per package over the 96-layer chips in the market. Densities could also be increased by other means such as switching to newer semiconductor fabrication nodes, and PLC (5 bits per cell), which is currently being developed by KIOXIA.

YMTC Launches 128-layer 3D NAND Flash Memory Chip

Mainland Chinese semiconductor firm Yangtze Memory Technologies Co (YMTC) formally launched a product that could serve as a technological milestone for the company, a 128-layer 3D QLC NAND flash memory chip. Carrying the product naming series "X2-6070," the chip implements YMTC's XTracking 2.0 memory stacking architecture. This is a particularly big development for the company considering the chip's immediate predecessor is a 64-layer chip based on XTracking 1.0, which entered mass-production as recently as in September 2019, a time when most foreign firms such as Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron, had moved on to 96-layer mass-production, having announced their 128-layer designs around June 2019. YMTC hence appears to have pole-vaulted 96-layer.

"With the launch of Xtacking 2.0, YMTC is now capable of building a new business ecosystem where our partners can play to their strengths and we can achieve mutually beneficial results," said Grace Gong SVP of sales and marketing at YMTC. "This product will first be applied to consumer-grade solid-state drives and will eventually be extended into enterprise-class servers and data centers in order to meet the diverse data storage needs of the 5G and AI era," Gong added. YMTC, part of the state-owned conglomerate Tsinghua Unigroup, is one of the dozens of beneficiaries of the Chinese government's initiative of localizing cutting-edge electronics technology, and reducing reliance on foreign hardware.

Yangtze Memory Begins Mass-production of 64-layer 3D NAND Flash Memory

Yangtze Memory Technologies (YMTC), a Chinese state-backed semiconductor company founded in 2016 as part of the Chinese Government's tech-independence push, has commenced mass-production of 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory chips, at a rate of 100,000 to 150,000 wafers per month leading into 2020. The 64-layer 3D NAND chips are based on YMTC's "in-house" Xtracking architecture. The company is already developing a 128-layer 3D NAND flash chip, and is skipping 96-layer along the way.

YMTC's capacity will be augmented by a new fab being built by its parent company, Tsinghua Unigroup. Tsinghua is a state-owned company which holds a controlling 51 percent stake in YMTC, and is a beneficiary of China's National Semiconductor Industry Investment Fund. When it goes online in 2021-22, the new Tsinghua fab, located in Chengdu, will augment YMTC's capacity by an additional 100,000 12-inch wafers per month. Its existing fab in Nanjing will also receive a capacity expansion.

Yangtze Memory Technologies to Debut New, Ultra-Fast 3D NAND Architecture and Deliver Keynote at Flash Memory Summit 2018

Yangtze Memory Technologies Co., Ltd (YMTC), a new player in the NAND industry, will be joining Flash Memory Summit this year for the first time, delivering a much-anticipated keynote address to reveal its ground-breaking technology - Xtacking. YMTC is the first Chinese company to take part in the high-entry-barrier NAND flash memory industry with its new architecture for unprecedented performance, higher bit density, and faster time-to-market.

Simon Yang, YMTC CEO, will deliver a keynote address, Unleashing 3D NAND's Potential with an Innovative Architecture, on August 7th, from 3:00 p.m. at the Mission Ballroom in the Santa Clara Convention Center, where he will illustrate how the company's new technology can increase NAND I/O speed up to DRAM DDR4 while delivering industry-leading bit density, marking a quantum leap for the NAND market.
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