SanDisk and Toshiba are coming together to construct a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for NAND flash memory. VDC believes this indicates these companies anticipate continued strong demand for NAND memory products for storage of digital media and data. Based in Yokkaichi, Japan, the facility will come online in mid 2011, meaning Toshiba and SanDisk hope to capitalize on continued demand from this time frame onwards. Toshiba will be investing 4.9 billion U.S. dollars from April 2010 over the next three years in NAND technology, indicating their continued confidence in the scalability of NAND technology. The new plant allows production of 20 nanometer memory chips, in order to better compete with memory products in this class produced by Intel and Micron. These companies released 25 nm NAND flash memory in 2010.
Questions remain surrounding the ultimate future of current memory technologies, as continued miniaturization of devices and continued performance demands reach the limits of current memory capabilities. As processors become faster and multi-core improves performance, it is increasingly the peripheral memory that is limiting the capabilities of embedded products, such as smart phones, digital cameras, and solid-state devices (SSDs). The smaller the memory gets, the more electrical interference between adjacent cells occurs, and the functionality of the memory decreases. Alternative memory technologies such as magnetoresistive random access memory (MRAM), ferroelectric random access memory (FeRAM), and Phase Change Memory (PCM) have been proposed as solutions. However, this new factory under construction by SanDisk and Toshiba suggests NAND memory at least, will remain an important memory for the foreseeable future. In fact, an alliance of Intel, Toshiba, and Samsung is hoping to produce 10 nm flash devices mid-decade, meaning NAND flash has a ways to go before emerging memory technologies can threaten it.