Western Digital begins production of the world’s tallest 3D NAND ‘skyscraper’

Western Digital today announced that it has kicked off production of the industry’s densest 3D NAND flash chips, which stack 64 layers atop another and enable three bits of data to be stored in each cell.Toshiba BiCS 3D NAND flash

The 3D NAND flash chips are based on a vertical stacking or 3D technology that Western Digital and partner Toshiba call BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling). WD has launched its pilot production of its first 512 gigabit (Gb) 3D NAND chip based on the 64-layer NAND flash technology.The industry’s densest 3D NAND flash chips are based on a vertical stacking or 3D technology that Western Digital and partner Toshiba call BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling). Their latest memory stores three bits of data per cell and stacks those cells 64 layers high

In the same way a skyscraper allows for greater density in a smaller footprint, stacking NAND flash cells—versus planar or 2D memory -enables manufacturers to increase density, which enables lower cost per gigabyte of capacity. The technology also increases data reliability and improves the speed of solid-state memory.

Three-dimensional NAND has allowed manufacturers to overcome physical limitations of NAND flash as transistor sizes approached 10 nanometers and the ability to shrink them further quickly dissipated.

bics3 3D NAND flash WD

The latest 3D NAND chips have been used to create gum stick-sized SSDs with more than 3.3TB of storage and standard 2.5-inch SSDs with more than 10TB of capacity.

Samsung became the first company to announce it was mass-producing 3D flash chips in 2014. Their technology, called V-NAND, originally stacked 32-layers of NAND flash. Samsung’s V-NAND also crammed 3-bits per cell in what the industry refers to as triple-level cell (TLC) NAND or multi-level cell (MLC) NAND. Because Samsung uses TLC memory, its chips were able to store as much as Toshiba’s original 48-layer 3D NAND chips, which stored 128Gbits or 16GB.

Intel and Micron also produce 3D NAND.

WD first introduced initial capacities of the world’s first 64-layer 3D NAND technology in July 2016.

fms sandisk keynote 2015 kevin conley 3d nand slide 100649162 orig

Even as 2D NAND approaches scaling limits due to lithography size and error rates, layer stacking to produce 3D NAND obviates all those concerns. The picture shown illustrates one method of achieving 3D NAND. Horizontally stacked word lines around a central memory hole provide the stacked NAND bits. This configuration relaxes the requirements on lithography. The circular hole minimizes neighboring bit disturb and overall density is substantially increased.

Pilot production of WD’s new 64-layer 3D NAND chips began in its Yokkaichi, Japan fabrication plant, and the company plans to begin mass production in the second half of 2017.

“The launch of the industry’s first 512Gb 64-layer 3D NAND chip is another important stride forward in the advancement of our 3D NAND technology, doubling the density from when we introduced the world’s first 64-layer architecture in July 2016,” Dr. Siva Sivaram, executive vice president of memory technology for WD, said in a statement.

This story, “Western Digital begins production of the world’s tallest 3D NAND ‘skyscraper'” was originally published by Computerworld.

US House approves new privacy protections for email and the cloud

The U.S. House of Representatives approved on Monday the Email Privacy Act, which would require law enforcement agencies to get court-ordered warrants to search email and other data stored with third parties for longer than six months. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed an email privacy bill.

The House approved the bill by voice vote, and it now goes the Senate for consideration.

The Email Privacy Act would update a 31-year-old law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Some privacy advocates and tech companies have pushed Congress to update ECPA since 2011. Lax protections for stored data raise doubts about U.S. cloud services among consumers and enterprises, supporters of the bill say.

Under ECPA, the protections are different for older or more recent data. Law enforcement agencies need warrants to search paper files in a suspect’s home or office and to search electronic files stored on the suspect’s computer or in the cloud for less than 180 days. But files stored for longer have less protection. Police agencies need only a subpoena, not reviewed by a judge, to demand files stored in the cloud or with other third-party providers for longer than 180 days.

That difference in the way the law treats stored data is a “glaring loophole in our privacy protection laws,” said Representative Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill.

The Email Privacy Act will bring U.S. digital privacy laws into the 21st century, said Representative Kevin Yoder, a Kansas Republican and co-sponsor of the bill.

Supporters of the bill argue internet users’ privacy expectations have changed since ECPA passed in 1986. Storage was expensive back then, and only about 10 million people had email accounts, Yoder said. Now internet users are more likely to store sensitive communications with cloud providers and other internet-based companies.

Under former President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice was cool to the idea of changing ECPA. The changes will make it tougher for law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes and terrorism, some critics say.

A similar bill passed the House by a 419-0 vote in April 2016, but the Senate failed to act and the legislation died after a new Congress was elected in November. The new version of the Email Privacy Act, introduced Jan. 9, has already collected 108 cosponsors, about a quarter of the membership of the House.

The bill would not protect internet companies from searches of their overseas servers by U.S. law enforcement agencies. Microsoft and Google have been fighting warrants for user data located outside the U.S.

Before the vote, the Consumer Technology Association urged the House to pass the bill. ECPA which was “written before Congress could imagine U.S. citizens sharing and storing personal information on third-party servers, is woefully out of date,”  Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, said in a statement.