Western Digital Ups Its SSD Game With BiCS3 256Gb 64-Layer 3D NAND

Western Digital, a major player in the storage industry, announced this week that it has completed development of its next generation 3D NAND technology called BiCS3. Limited production is already underway in Japan with initial output expected later this year. If everything goes to plan, volume production will begin in the first half of next year.

BiCS3 is the third generation of Bit-Cost Scalable NAND jointly developed between Western Digital and Toshiba. It's the world's first 64-layer 3D NAND solution, delivering the smallest chip area of any published 3D NAND. The initial plans are to deploy BiCS3 in 256 gigabit capacity followed by a range of capacities up to half a terabit on a single chip later on.

BiCS3 Chips
64-layer BiCS flash

"The launch of the next generation 3D NAND technology based on our industry-leading 64 layer architecture reinforces our leadership in NAND flash technology," said Dr. Siva Sivaram, executive vice president, memory technology, Western Digital. "BiCS3 will feature the use of 3-bits-per-cell technology along with advances in high aspect ratio semiconductor processing to deliver higher capacity, superior performance and reliability at an attractive cost. Together with BiCS2, our 3D NAND portfolio has broadened significantly, enhancing our ability to address a full spectrum of customer applications in retail, mobile and data center."

BiCS was first introduced by Toshiba back in 2007. Western Digital's involvement in the latest generation of BiCS comes by way of its $19 billion acquisition of SanDisk last May. SanDisk helped Toshiba create its second generation 3D NAND technology, BiCS2, a 48-layer solution announced last summer. The previous generation BiCS2 3D NAND will continue to ship out to customers in retail and OEM, Western Digital said.

Unlike planar NAND, which stacks cells horizontally, 3D NAND stacks cells vertically. This allows memory makers to pack more cells in a smaller space, resulting in greater capacities and lower costs. 3D NAND is helping to push solid state drive (SSD) solutions to higher capacities with better bang-for-buck ratios, which eventually could help supplant mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs).