Sk Hynix began mass producing new 72-layer NAND flash in its M12 semiconductor fabrication facility in Cheongju, South Korea. Even though the technology was just announced three months ago, the new flash production has already made its way into product samples that have been sent to OEMs, and Sk Hynix also plans to ramp up production of its 4th generation NAND tech on the second floor of M14 in Icheon, South Korea. These new production lines will allow the company to ship more 3D than planar NAND by the end of the year.
This new NAND is the highest vertical stack in production today. Sk Hynix released 48-layer NAND last November, but it never released a consumer SSD with the technology. The new 72-layer NAND features 4 billion cells, has an improved circuit design, and is two times faster in internal operations. There is a 20% increase in NAND-to-controller speeds, too.
The area where Sk Hynix lags behind the competition is capacity. The new 72-layer NAND features a 256Gb die capacity. That matches IMFT’s small 2nd generation 3D TLC, but is only half the size of the large 512Gb from IMFT, Toshiba, WD, and Samsung that come in just 64 layers.
We expect to hear more details about 72-layer TLC for consumer devices at this year’s Flash Memory Summit in August.
Sk Hynix and Samsung are the only manufacturers with the ability to build all three of the major components of a SSD. Sk Hynix purchased Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD) in 2012 to gain controller IP that paired well with its DRAM and NAND flash, and the vertical integration allows the company to control the supply line and build products with tighter integration.
We were told earlier this year to expect consumer SSDs featuring 3D NAND in late 2017.