Two weeks ago, Jim Handy (who bills himself and appears on the Internet as “The Memory Guy”) posted a blog discussion about the end of Flash memory scaling. He also posted a notice of the blog as a discussion on the LinkedIn Flash Products Group. The discussion then generated some interesting questions, which Jim has answered. Rather than letting the discussion disappear into oblivion, I’ve decided to replicate here in the Denali Memory Report, interspersing Handy’s answers with the questions:
Sean (Guoxiong) Peng: Actually it’s not a necessarily bad thing for the memory business. For the last decade I have worked in the Flash industry. It’s a great technology with commodity pricing due to flooded oversupply. Everybody tries to shrink a month ahead of the competitors for that extra profit of just that month. Most Flash manufacturers lose money and their talented employees don’t receive what they deserve.
Jim Handy: Sean, technology won’t cure what’s wrong with the memory business. It’s an undifferentiated commodity with high capital costs. Such markets are doomed to have boom/bust cycles simply from their economics, no matter how beautiful the technology may be. If talented employees aren’t getting what they deserve, perhaps they would do better by taking a job at a company with a differentiated product.
Thomas McCormick: As a developer trying to keep up, I think a little consistency would be a welcome break. If and when NAND goes 3D, backing the process scaling back a generation or two would be even more welcome.
Jim Handy: Thomas, my heart goes out to you, but I don’t see those NAND’s inconsistent specs changing anytime soon. I think ONFi was supposed to make all NAND chips behave the same, but it hasn’t caught on with the leading NAND vendors.
Alex Tseng: 3D stacked charge-trap could be an alternative solution since sub-10nm is not cost effective anymore.
Jim Handy: Alex, I just look at 3D NAND as another form of NAND with strings of bits turned on their sides. Of course, I also look at Charge Trap Flash as a turbocharged version of floating gate. The ITRS roadmap leans towards the use of 3D and I say that’s a good way to continue to scale NAND.
Note: To read about the original post, see “Jim Handy, The Memory Guy, writes that Flash memory is dead…but perhaps not just yet”
Also note: Jim Handy will be chairing a panel at Memcon in September. More info here.