Toshiba Constructing New 3D NAND BiCS Flash Memory Fabrication Facility In Japan

Subject: Storage | May 24, 2018 - 01:15 AM |
Tagged: toshiba, flash memory, fab, BiCS, 3d nand

Toshiba Memory Corporation (a subsidiary of Toshiba) is expanding its 3D flash memory production capabilities by beginning construction of a new state-of-the-art fab in Kitakami city which is in the Iwate prefecture in Japan. Toshiba Memory Corporation’s a new Toshiba Memory Iwate Corporation subsidiary began preparing for the new fab last September and construction will begin in July.

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The new fab will be built with an earthquake absorbing structure and AI powered production lines with an emphasis on energy efficiency. TMIC plans to complete construction in 2019 and will hire 370 new graduates. Toshiba plans to use the new fab to boost its production capacity for its proprietary BiCS 3D flash memory to capture the massive growth market for enterprise and datacenter solid state drives. Further, Toshiba will extend its joint venture with Western Digital to include working together at the new fab.

Toshiba is quoted in the press release in stating:

“Going forward, TMC will expand its memory and SSD business and boost competitiveness by timely investments responding to market needs, and by development of BiCS FLASH™ and new generation memories.”

It is promising to see new fabs being opened and production capacities expanded by Toshiba and others (such as Micron) as it means that flash memory prices should stabilize (hopefully!), and the increased and newer production equipment will help enable the progress of new increasingly complex memory technologies.

Source: Toshiba

Micron Constructing New Cleanroom For 3D NAND Fabrication R&D In Singapore

Subject: General Tech | April 9, 2018 - 11:20 PM |
Tagged: micron, manufacturing, IMFT NAND, flash memory, fab, cleanroom, 64-Layer, 3d nand

Micron Technologies recently began construction on a multi-billion-dollar cleanroom facility for research and development of its 3D NAND technologies. The new facility is being built adjacent to Micron’s existing NAND fabrication complex at 1 North Coast Drive where Micron invested $4 Billion to expand in 2016. Micron did not disclose its exact investment in the new cleanroom space except to say that it was a multi-billion-dollar project.

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Micron’s expanded 300mm 3D NAND manufacturing complex is part of its NAND Center of Excellence, and the new facility that is under construction will expand the company’s ability to increase its research and development efforts and allow Micron to push “even more intricate designs” according to Sanjay Mehrotra (Micron President and CEO). for its 3D flash memory. The new facility will be staffed by the new hires which will mainly be engineers and technicians specializing in 3D NAND manufacturing and will include as many as 600 fresh graduates.

Construction of the new manufacturing and cleanroom space is slated for completion in mid-2019 with initial wafer output by the fourth quarter of next year. Unfortunately, this facility is not intended to add additional wafer capacity (at least at this time) so those hoping for increased supply of NAND chips and cheaper SSDs will have to keep waiting. Rather, this facility is going to be used for R&D and its manufacturing will be used to produce more advanced flash and experiment with new manufacturing methods for increasingly complicated stacked and denser die designs instead of beefing up supply of its current memory chips that are being used in current products.

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Satellite view of Micron's existing 300mm NAND fabrication facility in northern Singapore.

Along with the new 3D NAND facility, Micron will be adding 1,000 new jobs to its existing workforce in Singapore of 7,500 over the next five years per a deal with Singapore’s Economic Development Board. Business Times and Channel News Asia note that over the past 20 years Micron has invested heavily in Singapore – north of $20 billion.

I am glad to see Micron pushing forward with its 3D NAND especially following the breakup with Intel wherein the two companies have decided to complete the development of third generation 3D NAND together and then to develop 3D NAND independently. Interestingly, Intel and Micron did not totally dissolve the IMFT joint venture as they will continue collaborating on 3D XPoint at the fab in Lehi, Utah which according to Intel is now entirely focused on XPoint memory. That was something I was curious about when first reading of the breakup early this year and happened to come across when writing this story. That press release notes that Intel and Micron are currently producing second generation 64-layer IMFT flash and developing higher density third generation flash which is slated for production next year (after which Micron and Intel will go their separate ways on NAND), so this may be a major reason for Micron building out new multi-billion-dollar fab space for NAND R&D.

SEC Filing Reveals NVIDIA Now Using Samsung for Some Manufacturing

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2015 - 12:09 AM |
Tagged: TSMC, SoC, Semiconductor, Samsung, process node, nvidia, gpu, fab

Want to liven up your weekend? Forget college basketball, we all know that few things are more exciting than SEC filings - and oh boy do we have a great read for you! (OK, this one is actually interesting!)

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Ah, legal documents...

NVIDIA has disclosed in their latest 10-K filing that none other than Samsung is manufacturing some of the company’s chips. TSMC has been the source of GPUs for both AMD and NVIDIA for some time, but this filing (the full document is available from the SEC website) has a very interesting mention of the suppliers of their silicon under the “Manufacturing” section:

"We utilize industry-leading suppliers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, to produce our semiconductor wafers."

Back in December NVIDIA commented on its lawsuit against Samsung for alleged IP theft, which only makes this partnership seem more unlikely. However even Apple (which has their own famous legal history with Samsung, of course) has relied on Samsung for some of the production of their A-series SoCs, including the current crop of A8 chips.  Business is business, and Samsung Foundry has been a reliable source of silicon for multiple manufacturers - particularly during times when TSMC has struggled to meet demand at smaller process nodes.

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Samsung's Current Semiconductor Offering

It is unclear at this point whether the wafers produced by Samsung Semiconductor are for NVIDIA’s mobile parts exclusively, or if any of the desktop GPUs were produced there rather than at TSMC. The partnership could also be attributed simply to scale, just as Apple has augmented A8 SoC supply with their rival’s fab while primarily relying on TSMC. It will be interesting to see just how pervasive the chips produced by Samsung are within the NVIDIA lineup, and what future products might be manufactured with their newest 14nm FinFET process technology.

Source: SEC

Anandtech Teaches Some Physics

Subject: General Tech | October 13, 2014 - 11:57 PM |
Tagged: processors, microprocessor, FinFET, fab

Ah, Solid State Physics. Semiconductors are heavily based on this branch, because it explains the physical (mechanical, electrical, thermal, etc.) properties of solids based on how their atoms are organized. These properties lead into how transistors function, and why.

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Put it back, Allyn.

Anandtech has published a seven-page article that digs into physics and builds upon itself. It starts with a brief explanation of conductivity and what makes up the difference between a conductor, an insulator, and a semiconductor. It uses that to build a simple transistor. From there it explains logic gates, wafers, and lithography. It works up to FinFETs and then keeps going into the future. It is definitely not an article for beginners, but it can be progressed from start to finish given enough effort on the part of the reader.

While this was not mentioned in the article, at least not that I found, you can derive the number of atoms per "feature" by dividing its size by the lattice-distance of the material. For silicon, that is about half of a nanometer at room temperature. For instance, 14nm means that we are manufacturing features that are defined by less than 30 atoms (up to rounding error). The article speculates a bit about what will happen after the era of silicon. This is quite interesting to me, particularly since I did my undergraduate thesis (just an undergrad thesis) on photonic crystals, which route optical light across manufactured defects in an otherwise opaque solid to make an optical integrated circuit. It has the benefit of, with a mixture of red, orange, and maybe green lasers, being able to "go plaid".

If you are interested, be sure to read the article. It is a bit daunting, but much more manageable than most sources. Congratulations to Joshua Ho and anyone else who might have been involved.

Source: Anandtech

Exclusive partner is another word for single point of failure

Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2012 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, apple, qualcomm, fab

If you believe the rumours, TSMC recently turned down offers from both Apple and Qualcomm to make those companies the exclusive partner of TSMC's smartphone chip production.  Now, that sort of deal does tend to line the pockets of the supplier quite nicely, as the customer must pay to recompense the lost business from other customers.  It also gives the manufacturer the ability to specialize their production lines for one specific type of chip which will eventually bring the cost per wafer down.  On the other hand, this type of deal can stifle innovation on a general level as the manufacturer doesn't need to worry about attracting other customers, nor designing fabrication plants capable of producing multiple types of chips.  Then there is TSMC in specific, a company which has a long history of providing supplies to companies both sides of the war, be it GPU, CPU or a mixed chip.  As arms dealers proved long ago it is far more profitable to sell to both sides than to only supply one belligerent.  Read DigiTimes take on this topic here.

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"A recent Bloomberg report cited unnamed sources as saying that Apple and Qualcomm had been rebuffed in separate attempts to invest cash in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) in a bid to secure exclusive access to smartphone chips. Digitimes Research analyst Nobunaga Chai has commented saying that he sees no good reason why TSMC should accept the investment."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: DigiTimes

Know CPUs were made of sand? Yes, but I like your video.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors | May 30, 2012 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: Intel, fab

Intel has released an animated video and supplementary PDF document to explain how Intel CPUs are manufactured. The video is more “cute” than anything else although the document is surprisingly really well explained for the average interested person. If you have ever wanted to know how a processor was physically produced then I highly recommend taking about a half of an hour to watch the video and read the text.

If you have ever wondered how CPUs came to be from raw sand -- prepare to get learned.

Intel has published a video and accompanied information document which explains their process almost step by step. The video itself will not teach you too much as it was designed to illustrate the information in the online pamphlet.

Not shown is the poor sandy bridges that got smelted for your enjoyment.

Rest in got

My background in education is a large part of the reason why I am excited by this video. The accompanied document is really well explained, goes into just the right amount of detail, and does so very honestly. The authors did not shy away from declaring that they do not produce their own wafers nor did they sugarcoat that each die even on the same wafer could perform differently or possibly not at all.

You should do yourself a favor and check it out.

Source: Intel (pdf)

ASUS finally bids farewell to Pegatron

Subject: General Tech | April 18, 2012 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: Pegatron, fab, asus

Back in the ancient past of computer history, also known as 2007, ASUS split its self into numerous specialized companies with Asustek as the parent company overseeing all of the subsidiaries.  Since 2010, ASUS has been slowly separating from one of their offspring, Pegatron who is an original design manufacturer of ASUS motherboards, laptops and graphics cards.  Since there are a limited amount of quality motherboard manufacturers, which have limited production capabilities ASUS has split the load between several companies including ECS for motherboards and graphics cards and reached out to Foxconn and a handful of others for their mobile products.  Over the coming year we will begin to see these products coming out and it will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable difference in the quality of ASUS products in the second half of this year.  Get more information on the coming changes at DigiTimes.

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"Asustek Computer plans to decrease ODM production of motherboards by Pegatron beginning mid-2012 and completely end their ODM relationship by the end of the third quarter of 2012, according to component makers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: DigiTimes

ARM aims to make TSMC the Fab of choice for their customers

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: arm, TSMC, fab, cortex a15, cortex-a9, 28nm, 40nm

ARM has developed some optimizations for their chips, provided that the customer purchasing them uses TSMC to fabricate them.  ARM has licensed a large variety of fabrication companies to produce their chips but with their familiarity with TSMC's 28nm and 40nm processes they have been able to introduce performance enhancing optimizations specific to TSMC.  It could taste a bit like favouritism but is much more likely to stem from the volume of TSMC's production as well as the maturity of the 40nm process node.  The 28nm node could be a bit of a problem for ARM as we have seen that TSMC is not having an easy time producing enough good dies for their customers; this is why you cannot buy a GTX 680.  As The Inquirer points out, if ARM wants to make sure their customers can get their hands on reasonable volumes of chips, they will want to create optimizations specific to other manufacturers sooner rather than later.

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"CHIP DESIGNER ARM has released a slew of optimisation packs for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm and 40nm process nodes.

ARM, which licenses designs to many chip designers, including Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia and Samsung, has given TSMC a boost by offering processor optimisation packs for the firm's 28nm and 40nm process nodes. ARM claims the optimisation packs for its Cortex-A5, Cortex-A7, Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 processor cores help designers make use of TSMC's process node nuances to get the most out of their designs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Inquirer

Take a pictorial tour of Kingston's SSD facility

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2012 - 11:48 AM |
Tagged: kingston, fab, tour, ssd

Tweaktown was invited put on a bunny suit and take a tour of Kingston's SSD manufacturing facility in Taiwan.  Starting from a pile of surface mount transistors which are automatically soldered and inspected before being baked at up to 270C once all the components have been mounted to the PCB, they snapped pictures of as much of the process as they could.  From there it is off to the testing facility where Kingston ensures that all the drives that came off of a particular run are up to the expected standards.  TweakTown does mention a burn-in machine, but unfortunately they were told not to post them as Kingston wanted to keep at least a few trade secrets from getting out.  It could also be that they don't want the world to know that they cloned Al several times and use his SSD killing expertise as the final test before releasing a drive to the channel to be sold.

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"We were exclusively invited into the Kingston factory where few media have been and got shown the process of making an SSD from start to finish. Due to media restrictions, we were not allowed to produce a video of the tour, but we were allowed to take photos. Obviously Kingston is a market leader in memory and SSD products and there is plenty of sensitive machinery and such - and we needed to respect that and their rules."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Tweaktown

Intel / Micron Flash Technology Venture Expands, Micron Assumes Two Plants

Subject: Storage | February 28, 2012 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged: micron, Intel, imft, flash, fab

Earlier today we caught some news of Intel and Micron extending their joint agreement to develop and create flash memory under the IMFT name. Along with this extension came some rearrangements to the current plan. Intel will be selling off their stake in two of the smaller fabs, located in Singapore and Manassas, VA. The sale is for $600 million, half of which will stay with Micron as a credit that Intel can use to later purchase NAND flash produced from those factories.

The 'tip of the spear' IMFT fab located in Lehi, Utah, will remain jointly owned and operated. This makes good business sense as the Lehi fab is the first to shift to smaller process nodes. IMFT announced 25nm flash memory production at this very fab in early 2010.

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PC Perspective toured IMFT Utah during the 25nm launch announcement.

Some may see this as Intel taking a step away from flash memory, but I see it as quite the contrary. Micron has always tended towards being a bulk producer of memory products, while Intel are the promary innovators in the arena. This move allows Intel to focus on the bleeding edge plant while Micron handles the particulars of cranking out those technologies developed at the Lehi Plant. It is likely that the highest grade flash comes from the Lehi plant, and Intel's half of the output is more than enough to supply their SSD production lines.

Click to view full article for the press release.

Source: Micron