FUTUREWATCH: Flash Memory Grows Up
It might be the understatement of the year to say that Flash memory is popular. Every year, we consume nearly twice as many bits as the year before.
Consider these nuggets: Today’s smart phones have more Flash memory than a desktop computer’s hard drive from the mid-1990s. Even budget phones can capture high-definition (HD) video and share it on the web. Flash-based solid state drives have moved from exotic to commonplace in just the last couple of years.
This has been made possible by a precipitous fall in the cost-per-bit. Every five years, the cost falls by an order of magnitude. How do memory makers cope with this treadmill?
The answer, of course, is scaling. In microchip fabrication, to a first approximation anyway, the cost of making a chip is proportional to its area. If you can halve the area a memory cell takes up, you’ve halved its cost.
The future will be even more data intensive: ultra-high definition movies, for example gobble four times more data than mere HD. One issue of a magazine for a tablet can take up nearly half a gigabyte. Can Flash memory technology continue to scale to meet the demand?
The answer is yes, but it’s going to take some new thinking. Simple two-dimensional scaling is nearing some awkward fundamental limits: simply patterning nanoscale features on a wafer is complex (and thus expensive). And when each bit is stored by just a couple of hundred electrons, even the slightest leakage is a data disaster.
Instead, many memory makers are literally going in a different direction – up! 3D NAND arrays build up as many as 64 layers of memory cells vertically to create extraordinary bit density without shrinking each individual cell.
Naturally, this new architecture introduces new manufacturing challenges. Billions of trenches and contact holes just a few tens of nanometers wide, but thousands of nanometers deep, must be accurately carved out with almost atomic-scale precision and incredible repeatability.
In this video, Brad Howard, head of advanced technology in Applied’s Etch Business Unit, looks at a 3D NAND structure and discusses how the new Applied Centura® Avatar™ etch system, unveiled today, was designed from the ground up to meet those challenges.
This breakthrough product is already helping chipmakers to build the advanced chips that will be used in future devices that will hold not just gigabytes, but terabytes of data.
Search 26k+ Solar Articles
- Securitization and Renewable Energy
- The All-Electric Fiat 500e
- The Energy Supercomputer
- A Breakthrough or Just Another PV Module?
- Bloom Energy Sees Revenue Drop in Q1
- Catching Photosynthesis in the Act
- Top 5 Ways The U.S Military is Utililizing Renewable Energy
- New Solar Technology to Increase Efficiency
- The Rise Of The Green Machines
- Solar Savings: Tax Credits and Solar
- Australian Scientists Printing Solar Cells Down Under
- Why are Auto Dealers Hating on Tesla?