SanDisk Ready for Another Shrink

Feels that there is plenty of life beyond 19nm

Last week SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK) announced that it would be shifting from 24nm to 19nm process technology and according to spokesperson Mike Wong from SanDisk, with whom we spoke, the company is looking at shrinking the cell size even more.

Up until now 19nm was known by the code name 1x – and SanDisk is now also operating with a new code name called 1y.  1y is expected to be in the range of 14 or 15 nm although SanDisk is far from ready to make a formal announcement.

In addition SanDisk is looking at the possibility of creating 3D flash-memory. They are looking at 2 different technologies. One is BiCS developed and demonstrated by Toshiba – SanDisk’s partner in manufacturing. The other is technology stemming from the 5 year old acquisition of Matrix.

Matrix specialized in creating write-once products based on 3D technology and now SanDisk is looking at employing the same technology for flash. It does however, according to Mike Wong, require some more research before finding the correct substrate for the process, that is still a couple of years away.

In an unrelated announcement to process technology SanDisk Monday announced the acquisition of Pliant, which specializes in high performance SSDs for enterprise. The differentiator is that it is using MLC flash instead of SLC that is traditionally used in enterprise class SSDs.

The products from Pliant will be integrated with SanDisk’s products but differentiate themselves by the fact that SanDisk is doing all of their controller development in-house instead of just buying a standard controller off the shelf.

SanDisk also has several material researchers employed looking at new materials for future storage – when flash eventually runs out of steam.

Totally unrelated SanDisk also told that its fabs in Japan, the ones co-owned by Toshiba were only minimally affected by the earthquake in May. They were shut down for a couple of hours, but resumed full production the next day. They are located in the southern part of Japan and therefore not included in the regions with restriction on the use of electricity.S|A

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