Samsung's Next-Gen Memory Chips Will Have 176 Layers: Report

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Samsung's 7th gen V-NAND flash memory chips will reportedly have a 176-layer configuration. According to a new report from Korean publication The Bell, the company has already made significant progress in the development of the next-gen flash chips.

Reports about Samsung's ambitions of developing the industry's first 160-layer or higher NAND flash memory chips first surfaced in April this year. The South Korean chipmaker was reportedly aiming for a 192-layer configuration. However, it later settled on a lower number. Its next-gen flash chips will now have 176 layers, the publication reports citing industry sources. The reasons for this change have not been explained.

Samsung will reportedly begin mass production of its next-gen V-NAND flash chips (also known as 3D NAND) in April 2021. Its 6th generation flash chips, which feature a 128-layer configuration, went into mass production in June last year. Samsung was among the firsts to mass-produce 128-layer 3D NAND flash memory chips, along with compatriot SK Hynix. It is now leading the industry to yet another step forward.

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The new chips will also feature a "double-stack" technology. In simpler terms, a higher number of layers in a NAND flash chip means higher storage capacity. And by using "double-stack" technology, Samsung will be able to significantly increase the storage capacity without increasing the size of the chip.

Samsung aims to continue expanding the gap on memory chip rivals

Earlier in June, Samsung announced that it is constructing a new NAND flash memory chip production facility at Line 2 of its Pyeongtaek factory in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. The South Korean giant was expecting the facility to be operational by the second half of 2021.

The company said it'd mass-produce its "cutting-edge V-NAND memory" chips at the new location. However, going by the recent report, the facility may be operational ahead of Samsung's projected timeline and the company might be able to start mass production of its 7th gen V-NAND flash chips earlier than initially planned.

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Samsung has been the number one NAND flash manufacturer in the world for several years now. The conglomerate reportedly earned $16.5 billion from the global NAND flash market in 2019. It also captured a 35.9 percent share of the global market, which was the highest in the industry.

However, the competition has been keeping up with the Korean giant. HK Hynix is already researching 176-layer NAND flash chips, while Intel is developing a 144-layer solution. Samsung will always have to be a step ahead if it wants to preserve that top spot for a long time to come. After all, the memory chip business is what saved the company from suffering huge profit drops during the COVID-19-hit Q1 2020.