Memory chip maker Hynix continues to make impressive (and fast) strides in the field of NAND flash memory. Having launched 36-layer 128-gigabit (Gb) three-dimensional (3D) NAND flash chips in April 2016 followed by mass production of 48-layer 256Gb 3D NAND chips just seven months later, the company is now touting the industry's first 72-layer 256Gb 3D NAND flash chips.
Hynix is using its own technologies to build these new NAND flash chips, which are based on triple-level cell (TLC) memory. TLC NAND chips are typically found in budget oriented solid state drives (SSDs) as they're less expensive than their multi-level cell (MLC) counterparts, but reliability and performance are not on the same level, or at least that used to be the case. The introduction of 3D TLC NAND has brought some parity to the situation, as have continued advancements in controller technology and firmware.
What is impressive here is how quickly Hynix has been able to make advancements in 3D NAND flash technology. In this case, Hynix says the technological achievement of producing 72-layer 256Gb 3D NAND "compares figuratively to the difficulty of approximately 4 billion 72-storied skyscrapers on a dime," if you can picture that. Hynix also points out that its 72-layer chips achieve 30 percent more efficiency in productivity and offer 20 percent higher performance compared to 48-layer chips.
"With the introduction of this industry’s highest productivity 3D NAND, SK Hynix will mass produce the 256Gb 3D NAND in the second half of this year to provide this to worldwide business clients for optimum use in storage solutions," said Hynix vice president Jong Ho Kim. "The Company plans to expand the usage of the product to SSDs and mobile gadgets such as smart phones to further improve its business structure weighted towards DRAM."
In addition to SSDs and mobile products, Hynix sees big demand for 3D NAND memory emerging in artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud storage sectors.