What is the impact of China's first mass production of 64 layer 3D NAND flash memory chip?

Source:   Editor: admin Update Time :2019-10-24

The days, Yangtze Memory Technologies Co., Ltd. in the TSINGHUA UNIGROUP announced that they would start produce 64-layer 456Gb TLC 3D NAND flash memory based on Xtacking structure. Products will be used in some mainstream market like SSD and embedded memory and so on. This is the first time that China achieves the production of 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory chips, which will significantly narrow the technology gap between China and global first tier storage vendors.

Greatly shorten the gap with the international advanced level

Diao Shijing, the chair of TSINGHUA UNIGROUP, said that there was no large-scale memory chip production in China, before Yangtze Memory entered this field. In the future, the requirement for data storage will higher with the development of cloud computing and big data. 3D NAND is an important field in high-end chip, its mass production marks that China is further away from the international advanced level.

Yangtze Memory was founded jointly by TSINGHUA UNIGROUP and Chinal integrated circuit industry investment fund Co., Ltd. on July, 2016. The main products of Yangtze Memory are 3D NAND and DRAM memory chips. In 2018,  Yangtze Memory achieved the small-scale production of 32-layer 3D NAND. This 64 layer 3D NAND is the first time for Chinese enterprises to realize mass production on mainstream memory products.

In the process of NAND flash memory evolution from plane to 3D, 64 layer is generally considered to be the first product that surpasses 2D NAND in cost performance, so it was once one of the main products produced by international first-line manufacturers. The mass production of 64 layer 3D NAND in Yangtze memory shorten the gap between Chinese enterprises and international advanced level to one or two generations.

It was reported that Yangtze launched 64-layer 3D NAND SSD, UFS these products for data centre, enterprise servicer, PC and mobile devices, in order to provide complete memory storage for users. Cheng Weihua, the chief technology officer and senior vice president of technology R & D centre of Yangtze, showed that, with the advent of 5G, artificial intelligence and super large scale data center, the requirement of NAND flash memory kept growing . The mass production of 64 layer 3D NAND products of Yangtze memory will inject new power into the healthy development of global memory market. "

It is expected to mass produce 128-layer next year

In the international level, the competition is very fierce in the market of memory chip. Although the current memory market is slumping and the price is falling. In some extent, it has restrained the manufacturers' expansion, but in the promotion of new technology, the international first-line manufacturers are not shrinking.

From this year, Samsung has announced the mass production of 96-layer 3D NAND flash memory and will continue to invest $7 billion to set the second NAND flash memory manufacturer. After the completion of the project, 65000 NAND flash chips can be produced per month. It is expected that the plant construction will be completed by the end of 2019, and mass production will begin after the equipment having been moved.

SK Hynix also announced to invested about KRW 1.22 trillion strengthen the win-win relationship with partner companies and semiconductor ecosystem. Previously, SK Hynix has announced that it will use Korea's Longren, Lichuan and Qingzhou as three-axis semiconductors. Longren will be used as DRAM next generation memory production base and semiconductor win-win ecosystem base, Lichuan will be used as headquarters, main plant area of R & D center and DRAM production base, and Qingzhou will be used as NAND flash production base to pursue medium and long-term growth of the company.

Therefore, some specialists point why several large international companies attach great importance to NAND flash memory. Because there are only three giants left in the world, namely Samsung, Micron and SK Hynix, after the DRAM industry has gone through the process of weakening and staying strong.  Samsung occupies nearly 50% of the global DRAM market. Compared with NAND industry, which is still in the stage of independence of the Warring States, the global manufacturers can be roughly divided into Samsung, SK Hynix, Toshiba and the number in the West. According to, beautiful light and Intel and so on four big camps, did not appear a big factory to ride the dust. This also gives Chinese enterprises opportunities to develop.

The mass production of Yangtze 64-layer 3D NAND is expected to breakthrough the monopoly in the United States, Japan and South Korea for China memory chips. It is estimated that Yangtze memory is expected to skip 96 layers and directly enter the production of 128 layer 3D NAND flash memory in next year, which is expected to be close to or even catch up with the international advanced level. 

The mass production may be an opportunity.

As the Yangtze achieved the mass production, the industry’s focus point moved to the profitability of enterprises, or whether they can cope with the competitive pressure of international manufacturers. After all, the memory market is in the off-season, and the price of memory chips is at a low level. However, the specific analysis shows that the Yangtze memory is not entirely unfavorable to achieve mass production at this time

According to the data from Trend force, the contract price of NAND flash memory fell significantly in the second quarter and will continue to decline in the third quarter. However, in the medium and long term, most businesses are optimistic about the future memory market prospects. Raj tarulli, senior vice president of Micron technology and general manager of mobile products business unit, was optimistic about 5g's pull on smart phones and the long-term demand for memory of automatic driving and VR / AR in an interview. It is predicted that the capacity of DRAM and NAND in mobile phones will grow further in the next few years, with the average growth rate of DRAM reaching 15% - 17% and NAND reaching 25% - 30%.

Trend force estimated that with the growth of large-scale data centers, the demand for memory will increase, and the prices of DRAM and NAND are expected to stop falling and rebound in 2020. Even optimists estimate that NAND flash prices will stop falling and rise in the fourth quarter.

International memory manufacturers like Samsung usually choose to increase investment in the falling period, which is called counter cyclical investment in industry. Yangtze choose to mass produce in this time, it needs a long time to increase production. When the production reaches a certain scale, the market may just turn warm. It is not unfavorable to choose this time for mass production. China is one of the most important NAND flash markets in the world, and China should not shrink back. The time for the real memory chip market to win is often in the next cycle.

Xtacking 2.0 will be developed.

Technology innovation is the key for the success of business. Yangtze mass produces 64-layer 3D NAND using Xtacking structure developing by themselves. Yangtze introduced firstly the 3D NAND structure Xtacking in FMS is last year, which won the best of show award. Its unique feature is that it can independently process the peripheral circuit responsible for data I / O and memory unit operation on a single wafer. Such a processing method is conducive to selecting appropriate advanced logic technology, so that NAND can obtain higher I / O interface speed and more operation functions.

Cheng Weihua, chief technology officer of Yangtze memory and senior vice president of technology R & D center, said: "by introducing the xtacking architecture into mass production, product performance can be significantly improved, development cycle and manufacturing cycle can be shortened, so as to promote the rapid development of high-speed and large capacity storage solution Market."

Yangtze also announced that they are developing the next generation of Xtacking2.0 technology. Xtacking 2.0 will further improve the throughput rate of NAND, improve the comprehensive performance of system level storage, and open a new customized NAND business model. In the future, the third generation of Yangtze memory products equipped with xtacking 2.0 technology will be widely used in data centers, enterprise servers, personal computers, mobile devices and other fields.