Thursday, July 26, 2018

Xtacking from YMTC, Fast NAND and More

"Yangtze Memory Technologies to Debut New 3D NAND Architecture"

YMTC will announce their Xtacking technology at Flash Memory Summit Aug 7th per a company announcement. We will dig up details for you but it looks to be another version of "Fast NAND".

Fast NAND is what I refer to when we discuss Z-NAND (Samsung) or similar products being proposed from Toshiba, Hynix. These are aimed to compete with Intel Optane SSDs. Versions can also be used for DIMMS in a NVDIMM-N or NVDIMM-P solution. I also address the cost of fast nand in previous Blogs

Typically it is SLC with design modifications to speed reads and writes. Samsung and other NAND companies have indicated that SSD latency can be reducted to 10uS range with fast NAND

What specifics YMTC announces and how it will impact the NAND and SSD market will be discussed at Flash Memory Summit #FMS2018. Call us for more information

Link to PR announcement

Mark Webb

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Intel and Micron to end 3D Xpoint Partnership

Intel and Micron to End 3D Xpoint Partnership

Micron and Intel are announcing that they will end their joint development efforts on 3D Xpoint . This is the latest update to the Intel/Micron Partnership and IM Flash

Intel and Micron will develop technologies independently after the second generation which is due out in 2019. All current products are first generation

Some thoughts 

Intel and Micron continue to separate business. NAND development partnership has ended and now Xpoint partnership will end quickly. The Fab is still jointly owned but Micron has options and has begun to document procedures and financing for ending the JV Fab agreement in their 10Q report.

side note: once you decide to not work together in the future, you stop working together in the present. Most likely every development and exchange of information will include a pre-analysis by attorneys. So it is safer to say that Intel and Micron are competitors and not partners today.

Intel is losing money on 3D Xpoint due to sales being below forecast, and costs are higher than the sales price. Micron is losing money on 3D Xpoint due to underload charges as they do not have a product and Intel is no longer buying from Micron as Intel doesn't need the output due to the previously mentioned poor sales

This decision is good for Micron as Micron has multiple options if Xpoint takes off or not and no anchor of future spending. Micron can buy out Intel from the Fab in Lehi at any time after Jan 2019 and run Xpoint, NAND, DRAM, or sell stuff to Intel. Micron is covered with options for either an upside or a downside in the 3D XPoint market and has leverage over Intel. Options are good

As publicly stated, Intels goal is to improve storage and memory capacity in datacenters using Optane  products and NAND SSDs. Intel can provide unique solutions that give Intel a competitive advantage on all servers. If Optane ends up in 50% of servers, the market is huge.... but we are not there (or even close) yet. If it becomes ubiquitous (a term I learned working at Intel), Micron wins by be a licensed source for Xpoint and with the partnerships Micron has in server world. 

Another result for Intel is that Intel can win as a company selling Optane at a loss (more processors, more servers, bigger moat). Micron cannot. But Intel needs to significantly improve sales to make this worthwhile

We will see what the possible next announcements are:

1) Lehi Fab decision ?

2) Micron announces a new NVM technology that they have been working on independent of Intel ??? (like when they announced their charge trap NAND)

3) Intel announces new partnership for developing and ramping Xpoint?

OR this could all get reversed.... a year ago Toshiba and WDC were in lawsuits, refusing to talk, locking engineers out of Fabs, and generally shaming eachother in public. Today they are one big consortium owned NAND Fab family. Maybe my friends at Micron and Intel will reconcile!

We will present technical status of XPoint revenue, endurance, speed, and configuration at FMS next month.

#optane, #Flashmem


BOISE, Idaho, and SANTA CLARA, Calif., July 16, 2018 – Micron and Intel today announced an update to their 3D XPoint™ joint development partnership, which has resulted in the development of an entirely new class of non-volatile memory with dramatically lower latency and exponentially greater endurance than NAND memory.
The companies have agreed to complete joint development for the second generation of 3D XPoint technology, which is expected to occur in the first half of 2019. Technology development beyond the second generation of 3D XPoint technology will be pursued independently by the two companies in order to optimize the technology for their respective product and business needs.
The two companies will continue to manufacture memory based on 3D XPoint technology at the Intel-Micron Flash Technologies (IMFT) facility in Lehi, Utah.
“Micron has a strong track record of innovation with 40 years of world-leading expertise in memory technology development, and we will continue driving the next generations of 3D XPoint technology,” said Scott DeBoer, executive vice president of Technology Development at Micron. “We are excited about the products that we are developing based on this advanced technology, which will allow our customers to take advantage of unique memory and storage capabilities. By developing 3D XPoint technology independently, Micron can better optimize the technology for our product roadmap while maximizing the benefits for our customers and shareholders.”
“Intel has developed a leadership position delivering a broad portfolio of Optane products across client and data center markets with strong support from our customers,” said Rob Crooke, senior vice president and general manager of Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group at Intel Corporation. “Intel Optane’s direct connection to the world’s most advanced computing platforms is achieving breakthrough results in IT and consumer applications. We intend to build on this momentum and extend our leadership with Optane, which combined with our high-density 3D NAND technology offers the best solutions for today’s computing and storage needs.”

Costs for 256Gbit NAND Chips

Costs for 256Gbit NAND Chips

Samsung recently announced that it has 96L NAND chips in mass production. Interestingly, the chip is a 256Gb device which is at the sweet spot of NAND demand but is too small in density to be optimal for 96L. This will make it so that Samsung’s 256Gbit chip doesn’t quite take advantage of the increased efficiency that 96L brings.

So the questions are:

  • How much cheaper is this chip than the 64L Samsung chip to make?
  • How do costs compare among the leading competitors
  • The graph below gives some interesting data of costs for each company. More to come.



  • I have all the numeric details and the individual companies called out and similar reports for QLC, 96L, 128L etc and all the densities from 256-1Tbit
  •  For the first time ever, I am breaking out Intel and Micron costs! They use the same design at 64L 256Gbit but the Fabs are quite different today so the costs are different (Singapore vs Dalian). Toshiba and WDC cost are not broken out (same fabs)
  • All products are 64 or 72L 256GBit devices except the Samsung one called out as 96L
  • Die Size, Yield, process efficiency, Fab ramp, string stack all weigh in on cost
  • Costs are estimated for July 2018 and July 2019


  • 256Gbit is sweet spot for NAND density
  • Samsung 96L is just about equal in cost to 64L today. It will be cheaper in the future as it matures. 
  • 256Gbit is too small a die to take complete advantage of 96L density.
  • Samsung is not the leader in cost at 256Gbit in 2018
  • Intel and Micron costs are different for 256Gbit.

·         Tell me what you think. We will have more of the details at Flash Memory Summit next month.
#Flashmem, FMS 2018, Flash Memory Summit

Mark Webb, MKW Ventures Consulting, LLC.