SK Hynix announced this week that it will begin sampling 128-layer 3D NAND flash memory products, which will soon begin to appear in end-user devices. A year ago, they launched the 96th tier 5th generation 3D NAND product, but low prices promptedSK Hynix to cut production, while the 4th generation 72nd tier 3D NAND remained its main flash memory product. SK Hynix announced in June that its 128-story 3D NAND products had moved from development to mass production and were now integrated into SSD and UFS modules and had been supplied with samples to key customers.
The 96th generation 3D NAND product represents a major technological advance forSK Hynix, which has shifted to a denser “peripheral cell” structure and significantly faster IO per chip. Significant changes in the peripheral structure were sufficient forSK Hynix to name its flash memory “4D NAND”. In the short term,SK Hynix plans to introduce a new generation of 3D NAND to the most profitable segments, while its more mature 72 nd. and 96-layer processes will continue to focus on cost-sensitive products.
In the client SSD market, OEMs are now testingSK Hynix’s latest generation M.2nvme SSD, which has a capacity of up to 2TB and consumes about 3W, compared to 6W for the previous generation of SSDs using 96L TLC. SK Hynix expects these SSDs to start appearing on laptops in the first half of 2020.SK Hynix’s NVMe SSD controllers are still using PCIe 3.0 instead of PCIe 4.0, which is not surprising given their focus on mainstream market segments and energy efficiency.
The 128-tier 3D NAND will take longer to enter the enterprise storage market.SK Hynix plans to take EDSFF E1. The L-size provides up to 16TB of capacity and plans to mass-produce these drives in the second half of 2020. Like the client NVMe SSD,SK Hynix is still using PCIe 3.0 instead of PCIe 4.0, butSK Hynix plans to support the latest NVMe 1.4 protocol. The enterprise SSD market is a key area of sK Hynix’s focus.