SanDisk and Toshiba team up to create 3D SSDs

A new wafer fab plant will be quake resistant and use renewable energy and low-power LED lighting

Toshiba and SanDisk will team up to produce three-dimensional NAND flash chips that will increase solid state drive density and performance.

Toshiba said it plans to demolish its Fab 2 plant in Mie prefecture, Japan, and replace it with a new wafer fab facility on the same site where SanDisk will also invest resources to begin creating the 3D NAND.

Samsung was the first to begin producing 3D NAND, which it calls V-NAND. A woman holds a 3D flash memory wafer.

The deal is reported to be worth about $4.84 billion. The companies expect production to begin in 2016.

The 3D NAND chips are expected to be able to create embedded flash with enough capacity to store 1TB of data, far more than Toshiba's current 64GB flash that used in smart phones and tablets.

"Our determination to develop advanced technologies underlines our commitment to respond to continued demand of NAND flash memory," said Yasuo Naruke, Toshiba's CEO of Semiconductor & Storage Products company. "We are confident that our joint venture with SanDisk will allow us to produce cost-competitive next-generation memories at Yokkaichi."

Unlike planar NAND technology, 3D NAND stacks flash wafers, connecting them vertically in an array.

Last year, Samsung became the first semiconductor manufacturer to begin producing 3D NAND. Its chip, which it calls V-NAND, provides two to 10 times higher reliability and twice the write performance, according to Samsung.

Samsung's V-NAND uses cell structure based on 3D Charge Trap Flash (CTF) technology. By applying the latter technologies, Samsung's 3D V-NAND can provide over twice the scaling of today's 20nm-class planar NAND flash.

Samsung is using its 3D V-NAND for a wide range of consumer electronics and enterprise applications, including embedded NAND storage and solid-state drives (SSDs). Samsung's 3D NAND flash chips were used to create SSDs with capacities ranging from 128GB to 1TB.

Toshiba said it is holding off on determining capacities and production levels, but that they will "reflect market trends."

"Toshiba and SanDisk will support 3D memory production with leading-edge manufacturing equipment for lithography, deposition and etching through joint ventures," Toshiba said in a statement.

The new joint wafer fab will be built in an earthquake absorbing structure and an "environmentally friendly design" that includes LED lighting throughout the building. It will also be equipped with the latest energy-saving manufacturing equipment, which will allow for better productivity with lower power consumption, according to Toshiba.

"Highly efficient use of waste heat will help to lower fuel consumption and cut CO2 emissions by 15% compared to Fab 5, currently the most advanced fab on the Yokkaichi site," the company said.

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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