Yangtze Memory proves Chinese semiconductors can be competitive

YMTC 128 layer memory chip 230YMTC’s 128-Layer 1.33Tb QLC 3D NAND memory is close to the state of the art. Samples are widely available and volume production is set for this year. It is currently shipping a 64 layer version by the millions. It just broke ground on a new building that will “triple its output capacity to 300,000 wafer equivalents a month.” The Wuhan site has an investment budget of US$24 billion, some provided by the province of Hubei. It maintained production despite being in the early world center of the pandemic.

While most of its 2000 engineers are trained in China, it’s led by Dr.Simon Yang. Western-educated, he was previously at Intel and CTO of leading foundry Chartered Semiconductor (Now Global Foundries.) A huge percentage of leading chip engineers are Chinese and many are being offered lucrative deals to work in China. 

SMIC, China’s leading foundry, skipped two generations and now is producing 12-14nm chips. It’s N+1 process, expected by the end of the year, is not the same as the 7nm at TSMC but it incorporates many of the Improvements of that generation. The US for now is forbidding ASML in the Netherlands from delivering the EUV machine needed to do better than that. It will take time for China to develop EUV technology of its own, a major obstacle.

There’s a myth that China cannot build advanced chips. There’s nothing about being born in Taiwan or Oregon that makes you more able to manufacture chips. 

YMTC Introduces 128-Layer 1.33Tb QLC 3D NAND

Date: 2020-04-12Share:
Wuhan, China, April 13, 2020 – Yangtze Memory Technologies Co., Ltd (YMTC), today announced that its 128-layer 1.33Tb QLC 3D NAND flash memory chip, X2-6070, has passed sample verification on the SSD platform through co-working with multiple controller partners. As the first QLC based 128-layer 3D NAND, X2-6070 has achieved the highest bit density, highest I/O speed and highest capacity so far among all released flash memory parts in the industry①. Accompanying this release, YMTC introduced a 128-layer 512Gb TLC (3 bit/cell) chip, X2-9060, to meet diversified application requirements.

YMTC X2-6070 128L QLC 3D NAND

“As a new entrant in the flash memory industry, YMTC has reached to new heights by launching the 1.33 Tb QLC product,’’ said Grace Gong, YMTC Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales. “We are able to achieve these results today because of the incredible synergy created through seamless collaboration with our global industry partners, as well as remarkable contributions from our employees. With the launch of XtackingTM 2.0, YMTC is now capable of building a new business ecosystem where our partners can play to their strengths and we can achieve mutually beneficial results.”

XtackingTM 2.0 unleashes the potential of 3D NAND②

Leveraging the innovative XtackingTM architecture, YMTC has optimized the design and manufacturing processes of CMOS circuits and memory arrays. As a result, YMTC’s 64-layer TLC products perform well in terms of storage bit density, I/O speed, and reliability.

In its 128-layer line of products, XtackingTM has been upgraded to version 2.0, which is bringing more benefits to flash memory. In terms of read/write performance, 1.6Gbps can be enabled on both X2-6070 and X2-9060 by using 1.2V Vccq, which is so far the highest I/O speed in the industry. As independent manufacturing processes have been adopted for peripheral circuits and memory cells, it provides the capability to bring better functional scalability in chip design without increasing the chip area. In the future, YMTC will continue to collaborate with more partners to build its ecosystem and benefit the industry through technology innovation.

With 1.6 Gb/s high-speed I/O performance and 1.33Tb high capacity, X2-6070 is demonstrating the outstanding performance and capabilities of Xtacking architecture. “We are confident that this product will be able to meet a broad range of market needs and provide even greater value to our customers. This QLC product will first be applied to consumer-grade solid-state drives and will eventually be extended into enterprise-class servers and data centers in order to meet the diverse data storage needs of the 5G and AI era,” said Ms. Gong.

QLC’s technical characteristics and applications

Compared with TLC, QLC has notable features including large capacity, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency for read-intensive applications. Each X2-6070 QLC chip has 128 layers of array stacks and contains more than 366 billion effective charge-trap memory cells. As a single memory cell contains 4-bit data, each chip provides a total of 1.33 Tb storage capacity.

Gregory Wong, Founder and Principal Analyst of Forward Insights, a well-known market research company in the field of flash memory and solid-state drives (SSD), believes, “Vertical scaling of 3D NAND by increasing the number of layers is becoming progressively more capital intensive with each generation. QLC is a necessary and capital-efficient approach to reduce NAND flash cost. Due to the characteristics of QLC, it is suitable as a high capacity storage media. As client SSDs transition to 512GB and above, the vast majority will be QLC-based. The lower read latency of enterprise and datacenter QLC SSDs compared to hard drives will make it suitable for read-intensive applications in AI, machine learning and real-time analytics, and Big Data. In consumer storage, QLC will become prevalent in USB flash drives, flash memory cards, and external SSDs.”

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