3D NAND has made a new breakthrough. Kioxia BiCS FLASH stacks 112 layers, increasing the capacity by 20%

The world’s second largest NAND-type flash memory (Flash Memory) manufacturer Kioxia (Kioxia, formerly known as Toshiba Memory) has a new generation of NAND Flash “BiCS FLASH” using 3D architecture, with 112-layer stacking and a higher memory capacity. The current 96-layer product has increased by 20%.

Kioxia announced ON January 31 that it has developed the 5th generation product of 3D NAND Flash “BiCS FLASH”, which adopts the stacked 112-layer process technology, and has completed the trial production and confirmed the basic operation.

The 112-layer 3D NAND prototype is a 512Gb (64GB) product using 3bit/cell (TLC: Triple Level Cel) technology. It is expected to ship samples in the first quarter of 2020. In addition to the growing demand for SSDs for data centers, commercial SSDs, SSDs for PCs, and smartphones, they will also be used to capture new market demands such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), and autonomous driving.

Compared with the 96-layer 3D NAND products currently mass-produced by Kioxia, the memory capacity per unit area of ​​112-layer 3D NAND is increased by about 20%, the memory capacity that can be produced per wafer increases, and the cost per bit also declines.

Kioxia pointed out that the 112-layer 3D NAND product was jointly developed by the company and its partner Western Digital (WD) in the United States. In the future, it will use the Yokkaichi factory and the Kitakami factory jointly operated by the two parties for production. 1Tb (128GB) TLC products of 112-layer process technology and 4bit/cell (QLC: Quadruple-Level Cell) products of 1.33Tb.

Regarding the mass production time of the above-mentioned 112-layer 3D NAND, WD announced that it is “scheduled to be in the second half of 2020.”

Kioxia rival Samsung Electronics of South Korea has started mass production of 3D NAND products stacked with more than 100 layers in June 2019.

Toshiba spun off Kioxia in June 2018 and sold it to the “Japan-US-Korea Alliance” led by Bain Capital of the United States. Toshiba still holds a 40.2% stake in Kioxia.

Toshiba rose 0.14% to 3,505 yen as of 13:41 on the 3rd, Taiwan time, according to Yahoo Finance quotes.

Nikkei reported on January 29 that according to sources, the estimated time for the IPO (initial public offering) of Kioxia will be postponed from the original plan in 2019 (before the end of March 2020) to after October 2020.

Kioxia announced its 2019 Q3 (July-September) financial report on November 13, 2019: Due to the large increase in shipments, the decline in unit price per GB has slowed down, and some production lines of the “Yokkaichi Factory” have stopped production due to power outages. Although the impact continued, due to the faster than expected production recovery time, the impact amount was greatly reduced, and the combined revenue was stimulated to increase by 11.6% to 239 billion yen compared with the previous quarter (April-June 2019). 100 million yen was greatly reduced to 65.8 billion yen, and the net loss was also greatly reduced from 95.2 billion yen to 56 billion yen.

Looking forward to the future market trends, Kioxia said that due to the appropriate inventory level on the supply side, coupled with the recovery of data center investment from the demand side and the increase in the number of memories mounted on smartphones, it is generally believed that supply and demand will remain stable in 2020.

The first plant of Kitakami Plant (hereinafter referred to as K1) built by Kioxia and WD in Iwate, Japan, was completed in October 2019 and is scheduled to start production in 2020. K1 will produce 3D NAND Flash products with stacked 96-layer process technology for use in data centers/smartphones/autonomous driving.