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128-layer flash flood to come roaring down the Yangtze in 2020 – report

Chinese fabber YMTC has cunning tech catch-up plan

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China's Yangtze Memory Technology (YMTC) aims to leapfrog 96-layer NAND and move straight to the production of 128-layer flash in 2020, according to a report.

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The company, founded in 2016, has begun bulk-shipping 32-layer NAND and sampling 64-layer 3D NAND. This leaves it lagging behind all the other flash foundry vendors. Intel, Micron, Samsung, SK Hynix, Toshiba and Western Digital are all developing 96-layer products (or 9x in Samsung's case) with 128 layers on their roadmaps.

Adding more layers to a 3D NAND die increases the capacity and lowers the cost/bit of a wafer of flash. YMTC is late to the party, but is part of China's drive to become self-sufficient in semiconductor manufacturing. It intends to mass-produce 64-layer 3D NAND chips late next year.

At that point, the other flash foundries will be putting out 96-layer 3D NAND chips with 50 per cent more capacity.

By jumping straight from 64 layers to 128, as reported by Digitimes, YMTC will be able to catch up with its competitors and compete on a level playing field. If it can pull this off, it will have the advantage in the large domestic Chinese market and likely be able to deny sales there to Intel, Micron, Samsung, SK Hynix, Toshiba and Western Digital.

It will, however, have to compete more intensely for sales in the rest of the world. ®

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