Micron Unveils New Enterprise Flash Technology


Micron Technology (NYSE: MU) has developed new enterprise-class flash technology that will eventually work its way into solid state drives (SSD).

The new offering is based on Micron's 34nm NAND development partnership with Intel (NASDAQ: INTC).

Micron bills its Enterprise NAND technology as the "highest endurance, highest capacity multi-level cell (MLC) and single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory designed specifically for enterprise applications."

Micron said its 34-nanometer process delivers a six-fold improvement in endurance for lower-cost MLC NAND — to 30,000 write cycles — and a three times improvement in endurance for SLC NAND to 300,000 write cycles. The technology can be configured into multi-die single packages for densities up to 32GB for MLC and 16GB for SLC.

But it still needs to be packaged into SSDs to be ready for enterprise deployment. To that end, Micron has partnered with SandForce for controller technology, and mutual end customers of the two companies will be the ones building SSDs or other storage solutions.

SSD analyst Jim Handy of Objective Analysis said the announcement "proves wrong all those people who think that high-endurance devices will never be supported by advancing lithographies."

"Sophisticated controllers like SandForce's diminish the need for special high-endurance parts," Handy added. "The designers are attacking the problem from two sides, the controller and the NAND itself."

The enterprise SSD market has been surprisingly strong despite the worst recession in decades, driven by early market leaders STEC (NASDAQ: STEC) and EMC (NYSE: EMC). But the once high-flying shares of STEC have been pummeled in recent weeks by the appearance of competitors such as Pliant Technology, even though competitive products are still months away from appearing on the market.

Micron said it is now sampling its Enterprise NAND products with customers and controller manufacturers, and is expected to be in volume production in early 2010.

Micron's products support the ONFI 2.1synchronous interface, which the company said delivers a four to five times improvement in data transfer rates compared to legacy NAND interfaces.

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