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3D NAND technology: What it is and where it's headed

The layered architecture of 3D NAND technology can deliver better performance and reliability than traditional NAND flash, but this complex architecture is also a major drawback.

Introduction

3D NAND flash stacks memory cells vertically in multiple layers, achieving a higher density than traditional NAND memory. It can be used in the same situations as traditional NAND and has a number of advantages over hard disk and tape storage. So, why hasn't 3D NAND technology taken over the role of traditional, planar NAND?

The last few years have been tumultuous for NAND flash. Last year, a lengthy NAND flash shortage drove up SSD costs and slowed the transition to 3D NAND technology. 3D NAND is a denser, faster option than traditional NAND, but high manufacturing costs and complexity have extended the transition from older NAND technology. The precise chip manufacturing process of 3D NAND requires a substantial investment from vendors and can make production a lengthy and delayed process.

Luckily, the shortage has ended, and the technology appears to be thriving. Vendor investment and interest have paid off, with a number of flash memory companies announcing NAND flash products and expressing enthusiasm for the future of 3D NAND. The question now appears to be less about whether an organization should consider 3D NAND, but where does it work best?

In this guide, we'll take a look at the best applications for 3D NAND, the intricacies of NAND flash technology and what's available. We'll also examine the future of 3D NAND and what role it will play in the data center of tomorrow. If you're new to 3D NAND technology, take a look at our glossary at the end of the guide for a quick introduction to some key terms.

1How it works-

When and how to use 3D NAND

The benefits of 3D NAND flash are many, but there are a variety of options for different storage scenarios. Is 3D NAND the right choice? If so, which type of NAND flash is best for your business? It's important to understand not only where NAND technology works, but where it isn't ideal.

Answer

When to give users 3D NAND technology

3D NAND flash memory isn't a must for most users' laptops, but employees who perform scientific research or run multiple virtual machines might benefit. Continue Reading

Tip

Why triple-level cell NAND flash isn't general-purpose storage

The drawbacks of TLC NAND flash memory make it an option for tier-two storage or applications that read data frequently, rather than writing it. Continue Reading

Tip

Pros and cons of 3D NAND charge trap cell technology

Charge trap technology is being used more frequently in NAND flash SSDs and provides clear advantages. These cells are less likely to be damaged and leak electrons compared with floating gate cells. However, charge trap technology has its own set of reliability issues. Continue Reading

Tip

The pros and cons of quad-level cell NAND

NAND flash memory technologies continue to evolve as vendors add more layers to devices and the bits-per-cell counts increase. Continue Reading

Feature

NAND flash memory basics: Comparing SLC, MLC and TLC NAND

Get up to speed on NAND flash memory basics, such as the differences among SLC, MLC and TLC, as well as what's on the horizon for 3D TLC NAND. Continue Reading

2In the news-

3D NAND updates and developments

Thanks to the bump in interest in 3D NAND technology, flash memory vendors are getting into the market. See what vendors, such as Intel and Micron, are offering to meet demand for 3D NAND technology.

News

Micron invests in NAND, SATA SSDs

With the 5200 series of SATA SSDs, Micron shifted to a higher-density 3D NAND technology that could enable a reduction in price per gigabyte. Continue Reading

News

Western Digital ships 3D NAND HGST SAS SSD for the enterprise

Western Digital's HGST Ultrastar-branded, 12 Gbps, SAS-based 3D NAND SSDs target high-performance enterprise workloads. The vendor joins Samsung as one of the only SSD vendors to ship SAS SSDs based on 3D NAND flash. Continue Reading

Blog Post

Intel ships P4510 U.2 SSD with 64-layer TLC 3D NAND

Intel launches a new P4510 series of its U.2 SSDs, equipped with its 64-layer TLC 3D NAND flash and enhanced firmware. This development enables greater storage density and lower random read latency than the prior model. Continue Reading

News

IBM goes 3D with TLC NAND

3D TLC NAND flash stacks memory cells vertically in multiple layers. IBM's upgrade enables FlashSystem-based arrays to offer fourfold flash capacity. Continue Reading

3Future outlook-

Where is 3D NAND technology headed?

After a tough year, the NAND flash shortage of 2017 appears to be over. So, what's next? Technology is constantly developing, and there will always be stiff competition in the market. But thanks to durability, technological advances and vendor investment, 3D NAND flash may be here to stay.

Podcast

3D NAND could be here for 20 years, analyst predicts

While NAND flash cost per gigabyte could remain higher than HDDs, 3D NAND may remain useful for two or more decades. Continue Reading

Feature

Comparing NOR and NAND flash

NOR flash offers faster read speed and random access capabilities than 3D NAND flash, but choosing which to use for a particular situation requires a solid understanding of each technology. Continue Reading

Tip

Shortage seems to be easing for NAND flash chips

As the NAND flash memory shortage eases, 3D NAND and even more advanced technologies promise a bright flash future for storage. Continue Reading

Feature

How to deal with NAND flash storage memory wear-out

Several factors can shorten NAND flash memory durability, including some measures that vendors take to improve the life of their drives. Continue Reading

4Glossary-

Terms to know

Whether you're looking for a knowledge refresh or are new to the subject area entirely, here are a number of key terms related to 3D NAND flash that you might want to brush up on.

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