Intel and Micron shrink NAND flash

Companies hope to bring more storage capacity to tablets and smartphones

Intel and Micron Technology on Thursday said they had shrunk NAND flash memory in size, which could help add more storage and features to smartphones or tablets.

The flash memory, made using 20-nanometer process technology, will provide more dense storage than earlier flash chips made using older manufacturing technologies, the companies jointly said in a statement. The chip will be made by IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), a joint venture between Intel and Micron.

Flash memory is commonly used to store movies, music and other data in products such as Apple's iPad or iPhone and other consumer electronics. In addition to more storage capacity, the smaller flash memory could leave room to add more features, such as larger screens or bigger batteries.

The new 20-nm process will produce 8GB multilevel cell (MLC) NAND flash, which store bits of data at multiple levels in each cell. The flash memory achieves a 30 to 40 percent reduction in board space, while retaining similar endurance and performance as the older 8GB chips, which were made using the 25-nm process.

The nanometer measurement describes the size of transistors and other parts that can be crammed on a single chip. Depending on the type of atom, there are three to six atoms in a nanometer.

One of the world's largest chip makers, Samsung Electronics, in April last year said it had produced 20-nm NAND chips for use in Secure Digital memory cards and other memory. Intel, SanDisk and Toshiba have also allied in an effort to produce 10-nm flash memory by the middle of a decade, an analyst said in February.

The 8GB flash memory is available for testing now and IMFT will begin mass production of the chips in the second half of this year.

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Agam Shah

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