Intel and Micron, through a joint webcast, unveiled 3D NAND technology, which pave the way for SSDs with memory capacities of up to 10TB.
SSDs, which stand for solid state drives, is the reason why manufacturers are now able to make laptops as thin and as light as most of the newer models are. The transition from the traditional hard drives to SSDs comes, however, with the trade-off of less memory capacities and higher prices.
Intel and Micron are looking to solve at least one of these limitations with the new 3D NAND technology, which challenges that V-NAND, or vertical NAND, technology that Samsung recently released.
While the V-NAND technology vertically stacks flash cell layers to increase density, the result of the arrangements with 3D NAND technology allows for even greater density with up to 48GB for each memory. With several chips housed within SSDs, the maximum capacity using the 3D NAND technology for a small M.2 drive would be 3.5TB and for a 2.5-inch SSD, up to a whopping 10TB.
The announcement of these technologies comes just in time as the previous technology of planar NAND, where the memory chips are laid out within just one plane, is at its limit. Laptops with SSDs using planar NAND technology max out in memory capacity at 1TB.
While the 3D NAND technology presents a much-needed breakthrough in the continuous expansion of the memory capacities of consumer devices, it may currently be too pricey for the average consumer despite the promise of Intel and Micron of better cost efficiency for the new technology. The very nature of SSDs contributes to this, as SSDs are drastically more expensive compared to traditional hard drives.
An ultrabook with a 2.5TB SSD could be worth $1,000 or so, which would be a steep price for most customers. However, for those that are willing to drop that kind of money for high memory capacities in a thin and light laptop, the bad news is that patience will be required. While Intel and Micron have announced the technology, 3D NAND chips will not enter production until near the end of 2015, which means that laptops and other devices utilizing the technology may not be released into the market until next year.
However, with Samsung's V-NAND technology and Intel and Micron's 3D NAND technology, this might mean that the competition could push the companies into lowering the prices for their SSDs. In addition, the less space that is required for the SSD in a laptop, the more space available for other components such as larger batteries that can make the device run longer.