Thursday, 27 July 2017 21:25

WD’s X-Factor: X4 tech comes to 3D NAND

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Building on its X4 expertise in 2D NAND, WD’s X-Force has attacked its next major milestone: four-bits-per-cell (X4) on 3D NAND, BiCS3, technology.

No, your Nan hasn’t joined the uncanny X-Men, but instead, WD has further enhanced its industry leadership in multi-level cell storage, which thankfully involves multi-level celling, as such, but not multi-level sales marketing.

With those twin sets of relief out of the way, with Nan safely at home and MLM left to the Amways of the world, WD instead uses its expertise in MLC (multi-level cell storage) to plan on profitable commercialisation and the continued furtherance of technological prowess.

The company states that, “building on its pioneering innovation of X4 for 2D NAND technology and past success in commercialising it, the company has now developed X4 for 3D NAND by leveraging its deep vertical integration capabilities".

We are told that “these include silicon wafer processing, device engineering to provide sixteen distinct data levels in every storage node, and system expertise for overall flash management".

BiCS3 X4 technology, which has nothing to do with those Bic pens made in France, delivers an “industry-leading storage capacity of 768 gigabits on a single chip, a 50% increase from the prior 512 gigabit chip that was enabled with the three bits per cell (X3) architecture".

WD says it will “showcase removable products and solid-state drives built with BiCS3 X4 and systems capabilities in August at the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, California” which is something you can chew the end of your Bic pen about in contemplation of an ever flashier future.

Dr Siva Sivaram, WD’s executive vice-president of Memory Technology, said: “The implementation of X4 architecture on BiCS3 is a significant development for Western Digital as it demonstrates our continued leadership in NAND flash technology, and it also enables us to offer an expanded choice of storage solutions for our customers.

“The most striking aspect in today’s announcement is the use of innovative techniques in the X4 architecture that allows our BiCS3 X4 to deliver performance attributes comparable to those in BiCS3 X3.

“The narrowing of the performance gap between the X4 and X3 architectures is an important and differentiating capability for us, and it should help drive broader market acceptance of X4 technology over the next several years.”

WD proudly boasts its latest achievement “follows a nearly three-decade-long legacy of industry firsts in flash innovation, including the industry’s multi-level cell (MLC) flash technologies using two bits (X2) and three bits (X3) per cell".

The company says it “expects to productise its 3D NAND X4 technology across multiple end-use applications that can take advantage of the higher capacity points supported by X4. Future generations of 3D NAND technology, including the 96-layer BiCS4, are also expected to feature X4 capabilities".

It was only less than a month ago in late June that iTWire wrote that "WD announces 96-layer 3D NAND, initial production output in 2018," so it's great to see continued advancements arriving quickly.

With all that in mind, the company clearly expects it will cell in very large numbers, which should generate some very pleasing memories indeed!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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