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Layers in NAND Flash memory, is there a limit on their number?

The miniaturization of the components is essential to be able to increase densities, since if you make the components smaller you can put a greater quantity of these occupying the same space; However, manufacturers realized that they could no longer expand their chips horizontally, so they resorted to doing it vertically by adding more and more interconnected layers in what they called 3D NAND memory, or V-NAND in the Samsung case.

How many layers can NAND memory have?

Samsung has already announced that it is mass-manufacturing the first SSDs with 176-layer NAND chips using the smallest NAND memory cells in the industry, but according to the manufacturer this is still far from its capacity and especially its projection for the future. future, as they confirmed that they already have functional chips with more than 200 layers and aspire to reach 1,000 layers very soon.

The problem with the vertical expansion of chip components is that, by stacking layer after layer, the chip grows vertically; In doing so, the layers placed in the lower zone are literally farther and farther away from the Cooling systems (the heatsink, without going any further), so these will heat up considerably more than the upper layers. Some manufacturers are already aware of this and are designing cooling systems literally going through the chips with carbon nanotubes, but in the end this is a solution that is also limiting in terms of the number of layers it is capable of cooling.

If Samsung is already talking about 1,000-layer NAND chips, we are convinced that they also have already designed their cooling and data transmission system between layers, but between these “holes” to cool the layers and the “holes” of the channels of data transmission between layers, the component density of each layer is also reduced, thereby reducing the density and capacity of the chips.

96-layer V-NAND

For now Samsung has not revealed more information on how they plan to achieve such a large number of layers in their memory chips, and although it will not take too long to find out that 1,000 layers figure makes us think and draw several conclusions, such as that They have realized that this will be precisely the limit in which a chip can grow vertically with current technology, or perhaps that it is simply the goal they have set for themselves in the medium term because reaching a thousand layers would, of course, mean , a milestone and more when the competition (SK Hynix) talks about 600 layers “nothing else”.

In any case, what we have more than clear is that there is a physical limit in which the chips can continue to grow with vertical layers, and when Samsung finally announces the technology that makes them reach 1,000 layers, we will surely leave doubts about it. to the question of the magnitude of this limit.