3D-NAND: YMTC is said to be already delivering samples of the 192-layer generation

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YMTC, the first and only NAND flash manufacturer from China, is booming. The 128-layer 3D NAND received praise from experts and is now being produced in large quantities. Supposedly, samples of the next generation in 192-layer design are already available.

DigiTimes reports this and refers to industry sources. Some business customers are said to have already received samples of YMTC's 192-layer NAND. The finished product could appear at the end of the year.

Newcomer YMTC makes big strides

Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC) is just was created in the summer of 2016 under the leadership of the Chinese government after the Tsinghua Unigroup had acquired a majority stake in the contract manufacturer XMC. The first generation of 3D NAND from China with 32 levels (layers) of memory cells was followed by 64 layers and since last year YMTC has been mass-producing the 128-layer generation.

After initial difficulties with a low yield of functioning memory chips, the “yields” are now said to be at a satisfactory level, so that output has been increased to 100,000 wafers, reports DigiTimes from Asia. According to unconfirmed reports, Apple is already being discussed as a potential major customer.

According to DigiTimes sources, YMTC is expected to account for 7 to 8 percent of global NAND production by the end of 2023, when it will produce more than 200,000 wafers per month at the Wuhan facility.

Very strong with density and I/O throughput

YMTC's 128-layer NAND received recognition in an analysis by TechInsights experts. They stated that the newcomer YMTC had caught up with the established competition from South Korea, Japan and the USA. In terms of areal density and throughput, the so-called Xtacking architecture from YMTC is particularly strong. The area with memory cells and that with the periphery (I/O) are each produced on different wafers and then combined into a 3D NAND chip.

In the layer race, Micron

The number of layers, like the pure number of cores in processors, says little about the properties and competitiveness. In a pure layer comparison, Micron is currently ahead by a nose and only recently raised the bar on this point with the presentation of its 232-layer NAND. However, Kioxia and Western Digital have shown with their BiCS6 flash that, despite “only” 162 layers, it has a higher areal density than competing products with 176 layers.

Samsung becomes the market leader not likely to break the 200-layer mark until later in the year.