Micron And Intel Reveal 3D NAND To Help Push SSDs To 10TB And Beyond

Depending on the "3D" we're talking about, it could either be amazing, or "meh". 3D gaming? Awesome. 3D movies? Meh. 3D memory? Incredible. Why? Because with 3D stacked memory technology instantly gives a hearty boost to both density and bandwidth. There's a reason both AMD and NVIDIA are going to be making use of 3D memory in their respective future graphics cards.

Intel Micron 3D NAND Drive

To help put things into immediate perspective, take a look at the "gumstick" SSD in the shot above (the long card). Because of their 3D memory, Micron and Intel say that hitting 3.5TB on drives of this size will be possible. Meanwhile, our traditional 2.5-inch SSDs could surpass 10TB. This kind of storage is the kind of density you see in a mechanical drive -- for a Flash Solid State Drive, it's almost mind-boggling.

Both Micron and Intel note that typical planar NAND flash memory is reaching a dead-end, and as such, 3D memory is something that could open the floodgates for further improvements. Not all 3D memory is alike, however. This joint development between the two companies resulted in a "floating gate cell" design being employed, something not uncommon for standard Flash, but a first for 3D stacked memory.

Intel Micron 3D NAND Wafer

Ultimately, this 3D NAND is composed of Flash cells stacked 32 high, resulting in 256Gb MLC and 384Gb TLC die that fit inside of a standard package. That gives us 48GB per die, and up to 750GB in a single package. Other benefits include faster performance, reduced cost, and technologies that help extend the life of the memory.

At the current time, this new NAND is being sampled, and mass production is expected to happen during the second-half of 2015.