Kevin Dilbelius, Micron's senior product marketing manager for enterprise SSD, said the cloud is driving the need for higher performance flash products that can help blade server infrastructures serve up things like online streaming video.
IMFT is coming up against considerable technology hurdles in its attempts to continue reducing the size of NAND flash memory. At 25nm, IMFT is approaching atomic sizes. For example, a human hair is 3,000 times thicker than 25nm. If the thickness of a human hair was one mile, 25nm would be about 20 inches, according to Kilbuck.
At the 20nm level, Kilbuck said only a handful of companies will have the intellectual property that will allow them to continue producing SSD products.
"When we were at 50nm, pretty much anyone could slap together an SSD," he said. "At 20nm, it's almost the opposite effect."
There are inherent problems in shrinking the size of circuitry used in semiconductors, most notably an increase in data error rates from electrons bleeding through ever-thinner silicon walls. That requires the development of more sophisticated error correction code (ECC) and signal processing algorithms, as well as overprovisioning NAND flash chips to guard against data loss.
"We see a big sea change coming in the SSD world where third-party vendors simply don't have the IP to play," Dilbelius said.
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