CES Wrap

CES 2008 has now come and gone. This show was quite a contrast to CES 2007.

Citigroup (CITI) put it well in describing this year’s SanDisk CES as “modest.” Last year was anything but. The SanDisk CES theme for 2007 was five new products for five mega-markets. As 2007 played out, the story turned out to be a case of over-promising and under-delivering.

Far better to under-promise and then over-deliver. SanDisk seems to have figured this one out.

Eli took advantage of the limelight this year to tell the SanDisk story in simple broad strokes. Product introductions were unassuming.

New SanDisk Products announced at CES

The graphic below illustrates the seven new products that CITI chose to illustrate.

ces-products.jpg

No headline material in the above products. Personally think SanDisk has decided to play its more exciting cards later. Why not? Mr. Market doesn’t seem to care right now anyway.

At CES Eli even got some potentially negative near-term news out: SanDisk’s MLC Solid State Disk (SSD) will be a 2009 story at least in terms of significant revenues:

Q: How close are you to developing a controller for the MLC?

Eli: Because we understand the complexities of MLC and the issues of MLC probably better than any other company, I think that we are taking a little bit longer time than just rushing out with an announcement.

Its a tough challenge. The SSD requirements for a notebook computer or a server are far more challenging and demanding. We are very confident that we’ll have very reliable MLC-based SSD products.

I think that right now we’re looking at the second half of this year sampling. We think that 2008 will still be a developmental sampling year and 2009 will be a much more significant year.

FWIW, my take is that SanDisk has decided that its going to take 43nm NAND to hit acceptable price points for SSDs. Probably a good call. Apple’s recently announced MacBook Air features an optional 64 GB SSD for a $999 top-up. A bit pricey to be a hit.

Would not be surprised if next year in 2009 that same 64 GB SSD is down to $499. It should be downhill from there as SSDs gradually take over the laptop market on ever lower pricing. Apple is known for being ahead of the curve, and in this case that curve is SSD adoption.

Will be shocked if next year’s SanDisk CES doesn’t show off best-priced, best-performing MLC SSDs. SanDisk may end up being relatively late to the MLC SSD party but sometimes fashionably late works. In this case I expect it will.

good-pic1.jpg

At CES, Eli also (wisely) decided to tone down the SanDisk anti-Apple rhetoric:

Q: On software, as we go through the show, this year, last year and probably next year, software is becoming more and more important in consumer electronics if you listen to Bill Gates yesterday or Jobs, at MacWorld, they all talk about the heart of the system is the software.

What is SanDisk’s strategy? How many software engineers do you have and how many do you plan to hire over the next few years?

Eli: We don’t want to play against Microsoft, or Apple, where they are very strong. We understand our strengths. We want to work with partners that bring their strengths in the software to provide an environment and an ecosystem and an infrastructure that allows their software to shine.

Of course to the extent that ultimately we have to have mastery of portions of that, we will either have it, or develop it or acquire it.

So what isn’t SanDisk telling us about the product pipeline for 2008?

Vaulter is likely sampling at notebook PC OEMs today and likely will appear in laptops in the second half of 2008.

The announced 12GB MicroSDHC card, not shown in above CITI graphic, may be x3. Figure we should know one way or the other by analyst day. Maybe as soon as Q4 results. In any case, x3 is one of the many significant, (currently) unappreciated SanDisk stories for 2008.

The video-centric Sansa, to compete with the iPod touch, is likely a 2H 2008 story. From a most interesting December 2007 interview with NBC U president of digital distribution, Jean-Briac:

Will NBCU’s deal support portable devices when Fanfare supports them?

They (SanDisk) are looking to launch Sansa View — an iPod-like portable device for September rollout next year.

September 2008 fits the timeframe for the rollout of the first products incorporating Google’s Android OS. SanDisk needs a slick OS with integrated applications to take on the iPod touch. The fit with Android would be seem to be good.

When Eli said, “We want to work with partners that bring their strengths in the software to provide an environment and an ecosystem and an infrastructure that allows their software to shine,” he could be thinking Android.

fuze.jpeg

On 5 December 2007 SanDisk filed for a trademark for the name Sansa Fuze. While the name Sansa Fuze could apply to any Sansa audio/video product, I’m guessing that this will be the player mentioned by Jean-Briac: the SanDisk answer to Apple’s iPod touch. Fuze could be short for fusion, or the combination/integration of music, videos, the internet, photos etc.

Another product possibility for 2008 is SanDisk’s Matrix three-dimensional layered memory technology slated for affordable, consumable, one-time-use memory cards. At analyst day in February 2007, Greg Rhine noted that pilots were beginning for the product and that we would see it in the marketplace in the middle of 2007.

I don’t know about anyone else out there, but I haven’t seen or heard about the product. SanDisk has been noticeably quiet about these one-time-programmable (OTP) cards since analyst day 2007: No press releases or mentions in conference calls. What happened is anyone’s guess.

My guess is that NAND prices dropped so fast in 2007 that the Matrix tech at 80nm, which was scheduled for the second half of 2007, was not competitive with NAND at 56nm. Why bother with OTP when reprogrammable cards are cheaper?

SanDisk’s plan has been to make the jump to 45 nm for 3D OTP in 2008/2009. Whether SanDisk can accomplish this in 2008, might be answered on analyst day. I would think that 3D @ 45 nm would have the edge cost-wise over NAND MLC and x3 at 43 nm. After all SNDK has said that it sees Matrix 3D as x4 to x8 equivalent. Whether the potential cost advantage of 3D OTP at 45 nm is enough for a low cost OTP card would seem to be anyone’s guess.

In a related matter, Eli has said a decision will be made in 2008 as to how to proceed with in-house 3D chip production. Right now SanDisk’s 3D chips are not being produced in the Toshiba/SanDisk fabs.

As discussed in the past, my guess is that SNDK has been waiting to make such a decision until it has a much better idea of progress being made with the technology. Probably the biggest unknown is potentially the biggest deal: read/write (R/W).

SanDisk’s Matrix 3D chip technology is something entirely different from NAND. It is not a variation of floating gate or charge trapping, but something referred to as antifuse. Instead of storing electrical charges, the chip has gazillions of microscopic fuses. When info is read to the chip, fuses are either blown or left alone, storing the info permanently (up to 100 years).

Current commercial Matrix 3D is only OTP. It stores data just fine, but only once. The chip is not re-programable. SanDisk has been working on turning this OTP into R/W. Judging from the patent applications in the pipeline, SanDisk has figured this baby out. My guess is that working prototypes exist. Whether SanDisk will be able to deliver a commercially viable R/W Matrix 3D product remains to be seen.

In any case, one of the interesting things about SNDK’s 3D R/W technology as described in patent applications, is that the same technology and chips purportedly will work for both OTP and R/W. Its all in the programming.

If the chip is going to be OTP a lot of current is used and the “fuses” burn away, storing info permanently. For R/W programming, less current is used and the fuses act like switches. Another interesting and promising angle is that more than one resistance state can be accommodated by the “fuses” thereby allowing more bits to be stored, like MLC. And of course all this works in 3 dimensions with many layers.

Another product likely in the pipeline for 2008 is the Microsoft and SanDisk U3 successor for USB flash drives and flash memory cards. By coupling computing power added to USB drives and memory cards with an onboard software platform, U3 promised a portable personalized computing environment.

In May of 2007, Microsoft teamed with SanDisk “to deliver a next-generation software and hardware solution to place application programs and personal customization on USB flash drives and flash memory cards, expanding on and replacing SanDisk’s existing U3 Smart Technology.”

The first of these SanDisk/MIcrosoft enabled products are expected to be commercially available starting in the second half of 2008. Microsoft is purportedly developing the software while SanDisk is working on new hardware integration, including the addition of TrustedFlash security technology.

Curiously, as promising as these unannounced products are, SanDisk doesn’t appear to need them to have a most productive 2008. The mobile monster appears to be in the house. I suspect that estimates for mobile card and embedded NAND demand have been underestimated and by the second half of 2008 SanDisk will be profiting accordingly. Time will tell.

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14 Responses to CES Wrap

  1. bonus says:

    Hi Savo,

    First time I respond to your blog although I’m a diligent reader. Thanks for all your time and efforts. This blog is both informative and so full of insights.
    Concerning R/W OTP you write: “Judging from the patent applications in the pipeline, SanDisk has figured this baby out. ”
    Could you elaborate please? Is there any patent application on this issue? If so, when was it issued?

    Yours,
    Bonus

  2. Poofypuppy says:

    Hi Savo,

    Thanks for the latest blog, I’m always interested in the progress on 3D. It looks like the wraps are coming off on Dov’s new startup company Modu (formerly InFone)…
    http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/DocView.asp?did=1000301022&fid=1725

    Poofy

  3. savolainen says:

    Hi Poofy,

    Took some time for 3D patent review yesterday. It took a bit to get oriented again. There is a bit of mad science to the details, but I find that amusing in a curious kind of way. I hope 3D antifuse becomes most relevant, SanDisk seems wonderfully positioned.

    In October 2005 SanDisk paid somewhere around $250M for Matrix. The crown jewels of the acquisition were the 100+ Matrix patents covering its 3D antifuse chip technology. From what I can tell none of the patents issued prior to that date, cover w/r.

    The patent you referred to from the Yahoo board, 7,319,053: “Vertically stacked field programmable nonvolatile memory and method of fabrication”, is about the fabrication and construction of a 3-D semiconductor memory device. Its probably relevant for r/w, but does not describe a r/w process per se.

    7,319,053 is one of a string of related patents for the Matrix “original” 3D antifuse technology. It is immediately related (a “continuation” of a “continuation of a “continuation”) to what appears to be one of the grand-daddies- 6,034,882.

    6,034,882: “Vertically stacked field programmable nonvolatile memory and method of fabrication” was applied for in 1998 with issue date 2000. Matrix was founded in 1998.

    AMD, IBM, Infineon, HP and Micron also have done antifuse work (patents) referencing 6,034,882. So SanDIsk is not the only company which thinks antifuse tech has promise.

    The oldest in-depth read/write patent application I have been able to find (United States Patent Application: 20070090425) was applied for at the end of September 2005. So r/w research was already underway when SanDisk acquired Matrix.

    So to try to answer your question: patent 7,319,053 is probably not “the big one” for r/w. But I suspect the “big one” covering r/w has already been applied for a couple of years ago and now it is a waiting game.

    I will try to add more on r/w patent applications in another comment later.

    Thanks for the modu link. My tentative plan is to do a post on modu right before 3GSM. Basically I think modu is all about “modular” mobile technology. What exactly that might be isn’t clear, though “small”, “light”, “affordable”, “personal” all seem most relevant.

    Dov is clearly thinking big.

    There is a teaser video up now on the modu site.

    Best,
    Savo

  4. Poofypuppy says:

    Thanks, Savo, much appreciated. Owning SanDisk stock is like expectantly waiting for eggs to hatch in the middle of a hurricane. It will be great if the golden geese ever hatch from their eggs, but not if the storm washes away (and destroys) the eggs first. Seems the overall stock market sentiment is terrible right now, but hopefully the long-term prospects will outweigh any short-term price collapses.

    Regards,
    Poofy

  5. hapa says:

    Savo,
    A post in IV seems to indicate that Sandisk is looking at PMC as the technology for 3D r/w. (ref: http://www1.investorvillage.com/smbd.asp?mb=3720&mn=8014&pt=msg&mid=3925168 ). It shows links to Sandisk 3D LLC patents collected after Matrix acquisition and more patent applications submitted last year. You probably know about these things already. However, I’d like to hear your comment about the viability of PMC as the antifuse. I really enjoy reading your blog, and thank you very much.

    Regards,
    Hapa

  6. savolainen says:

    Hi Poofy and Bonus,

    As I mentioned in my last comment, the first 3D read/write patent application that I am aware of is United States Patent Application: 20070090425: “Memory cell comprising switchable semiconductor memory element with trimmable resistance.” This patent was filed by Matrix on 28 September 2005, a few months before SanDisk acquired Matrix.

    Abstract of 20070090425: “A nonvolatile memory cell comprising doped semiconductor material and a diode can store memory states by changing the resistance of the doped semiconductor material by application of a set pulse (decreasing resistance) or a reset pulse (increasing resistance.) Set pulses are of short duration and above a threshold voltage, while reset pulses are longer duration and below a threshold voltage. In some embodiments multiple resistance states can be achieved, allowing for a multi-state cell, while restoring a prior high-resistance state allows for an rewriteable cell. In some embodiments, the diode and a switchable memory formed of doped semiconductor material are formed in series, while in other embodiments, the diode itself serves as the semiconductor switchable memory element.”

    As I understand the existing Matrix tech- the OTP 3D has racks and racks of microscopic fuses in a chip. When info is read to the chip these fuses are either blown or left alone, storing the info permanently.

    For R/W it appears that information can be stored by setting/reading/erasing resistance within these fuses. This breakthrough is accomplished by doping the semiconductor material forming the fuses. It even looks like it is possible to store multiple resistance states in the same memory cell.

    SanDisk once said that it sees 3D R/W as x4 to x8 equivalent. I initially interpreted that as having to do with the number of 3D layers in the chip. Now I am not so sure. It might have to do with the number of bits that can be stored in each cell because of the ability to store multiple resistance states.

    In any case, since the fall of 2005 the Matrix team as part of SanDisk has been busy filing 3D patent applications. As far as I can tell none of the r/w patents have been granted (issued) yet, though patent 6,952,030 (issued) seems important. Over 20 applications currently have been published (and not yet issued) with assignee name “Sandisk 3d”. Most have to do with r/w.

    If anyone interested in seeing these, the patent applications are available on the US patent office web site. Just go to the following link:

    http://patft1.uspto.gov/

    Under published applications click on “Advanced Search.” On that page enter “sandisk 3d” (enter with quotes) in the “query” field and then hit “search”. You should get a list with 23 applications. Maybe 7 or so are not directly related to r/w, but the rest are. For those so inclined I recommend (for r/w) starting with 20070090425.

    ****

    Hey Poofy, In hindsight, I think Dov’s timing in selling FLSH was excellent. As beat-up as SNDK is now, FLSH would likely have fared even worse over this last stretch.

    Regards,
    Savo

  7. savolainen says:

    I neglected to mention SanDisk’s high capacity SIM card, MegaSIM, as a potential product in the pipeline for 2008. MegaSIM could be a sleeper.

    SanDisk considered 2007 to be a design-in period for MegaSIM. If MegaSIM is “to emerge as a major revenue contributor” in 2008 as SanDisk expected in 2007, we should be getting news soon. 3GSM would be a natural forum.

  8. b9indiference says:

    Hello Savo

    Thanks for all your posts…and blog

    curious s to your thoughts on MODU, Dov Moran and the following link and article
    Many Thanks

    Dan SDR! – Longs – Dov Moran?
    Dan, SDR1, Jexzz, All-Tech…all the Long suffering longs

    I’m re-posting to you guys as I would be interested to hear your thoughts on MODU, the video and MODU technology implication for SanDisk

    I believe there are still ties between SanDisk and Dov Moran…is that correct
    see below and link to MODU video and website

    …..

    Follow link to MODU Dov Moran’s company. He was formerly CEO of M-Systems
    The website features a preview video of how MODU will use flash in mobile devices connecting appliances….SanDisk flash I hope

    You can follow links to the website… info…management team… jobs…etc
    also see article below

    http://www.modumobile.com/

    G
    b9
    ———————————–

    Dov Moran reveals details of secret start-up
    Modu is developing a mobile phone application that can be linked to any computer via a USB port.
    Shmulik Shelah 22 Jan 08 16:54

    Dov Moran’s secret start-up Modu Ltd., called InFone until a few weeks ago, has begun to dispel the cloak of fog concealing its activity. As reports circulate that company is planning to participate in the GSMA Mobile World exhibition in Barcelona in a few weeks, it unveiled a video clip on its website detailed the mysterious product.
    “TechCrunch” reports that Modu is developing a mobile phone application that can be linked to any computer via a USB port. The significance you can figure out for yourselves.

    Moran founded Modu in January 2007, shortly after selling flash memory developer msystems to SanDisk Corporation (Nasdaq:SNDK) for $1.6 billion. Flash memory will play a significant role in the new device, too. Modu combines memory that interfaces with any computer device to which it is attached, transferring all its accumulated memory, including contacts and media files.

    Modu’s video clip is part of the company’s PR campaign and teasing, following last month’s media presentation about the company’s founding. The presentation said that the Kfar Saba-based company has 100 employees, and has raised $20 million from Genesis Partners, Gemini Israel Funds, and SanDisk.

    Moran has said in the past that he wants to turn Modu into a company that will have $1 billion in sales in five years.

    Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – http://www.globes-online.com – on January 22, 2008

    � Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2008

  9. savolainen says:

    Greetings b9,

    My tentative plan is to post next weekend (or the weekend after) on modu. Dov will reveal modu in Barcelona at 3GSM the week of February 7.

    Yes there are ties between Dov and SanDisk. SanDisk is an investor in modu, though doesn’t have a seat on modu’s board. modu will use NAND so that will be something of a positive for SanDisk.

    In the bigger picture modu could give SanDisk a tangenial way to play in the mobile phone market. I suspect that one modu angle is about putting mobile technology in other devices. For example maybe a Sansa could be enabled through modu’s mobile tech.

    I believe Dov is shooting for something revolutionary. My guess is that he has come up with a new paradigm for the mobile device. Probably more system than thing.

    Best,
    Savo

  10. b9indiference says:

    Hello Savo

    The ER – conference call is now hours past and I have had time to reflect.
    First…Your revenue GAAP numbers in the event SanDisk was unable to find additional non-captive supply were very accurate

    I was surprised by a few non-events…and am wondering how you interpreted the CC

    -Although 8 of the 21 companies targeted by the law suit settled there were no details
    -Pre CES, We were told that SanDisk moved precious resources to develop a compelling product that had no prior road map…a singular event in SanDisk history. The product, is Vaulter and yet we heard no news nor to my recollection was it mentioned…and it has been conspicuous by its absence since CES
    -Samsung L&R drew a “no comment” from Eli, not surprising
    -43nm MLC-SSD 3X and 4X seem further away then this time last year
    -the 775M – 875M number for Q1 2008 caught the analysts off guard. Judy’s reply of “its the same percentage drop we experienced from Q4 06 to Q1 07 seemed prepared and somewhat irrelevant…

    Is this a sign that management feels a probable US or World recession will impact revenue?
    Was management being overly conservative given a stock price that is already beaten down and most likely can only move up?? (I hope!!!)

    I felt the CC was confusing and the presentation seemed improvised at times??
    thanks for your thoughts in advance
    b9

  11. flashwave2000 says:

    i keep hoping that your next post will be entitled “guide for the perplexed”….somehow i’m hoping that you can figure out what seems to me to be a very confusing and uncertain future of profitability for Sandisk. They seem to be going in a lot of different directions hoping that one of their irons in the fire will hit. One day i hear that they are becomming a consumer electronics company and then i hear no more about that strategy. i hear about the U3 and the ecosystem and basically the creation of a mini thumb drive computer…yet years later there is not one killer app on U3. Now they are trying to “wake up your phone”…yet i’m wondering with what app….simply sticking in the micro SD hardly wakes up anything. Gruvi cards sounded groovey yet they never got out of the starting gate. The Sansa was good yet i still find obtaining music content way too hard esp for multiple devices utilizing subscription(currently on rhapsody/sansa). Take TV and fanfare feel like reaches…..you hear a little about them and then…. nothing. Same with vaulter as a previous poster pointed out. it seems to me that we need the 2.0 cycle to roll through each product. seems to me that we are beginning photography 2.0 with the flash based video players. next we need 2.0 to hit the view meaning of course video….yet i’m afraid there is no easily obtainable content….at least i (representative of the average middle age consumer) don’t know where to obtain. 2.0 needs to hit U3 …i’m at a total loss why this hasn’t happened. the nand geometries and macro supply and demand issues which i guess have the most determination on profitability are always topics beyond my ability to analyse and i am left with laymans questions like one of the analysts asked…something like “it seems like Nand story is tired?” to which Eli perked up and wanted to make sure he heard the question correctly….when the guy repeated it….my recollection was Eli just respectfully disagreed but did not issue a forceful, comprehensive and convincing rebuttal. i remember perhaps a year ago Eli said that the demand for nand was so great it reminded him the earlier days when they couldnt make enough cards for the demand. We hear about SSD yet its always a little ways away, yet we see Samsung announcements for their SSD’s. and speaking of samsung, does anyone really understand what IP we have over samsung and how much future royalties that is worth? as you can see….i’m rather perplexed….just trying to feel more comfortable with this long term investment
    thanks for all of your great work,
    gal2k

  12. savolainen says:

    Greetings gal2k

    Decided to finish my Q4 wrap before getting back to you. Nice to see that you haven’t lost your sense of humor. Altho of the black variety, such is probably an important survival skill for times like these.

    I agree with your critique of SanDisk, the CE powerhouse. Too much talk too early for my tastes. Better to under-promise and then over-deliver. Some follow-through would be nice too. Or at least an update to the thinking behind what is or isn’t going on.

    Analyst Day should be interesting. My sense is that SanDisk has decided on a back-to-basics approach. At least I hope so. No point in trying to get too fancy when opportunities like mobile and international are there for the execution.

    Right now SanDisk has become a value stock. To get back into the growth category, SanDisk is going to have to prove itself on both the top and bottom lines. Personally believe the opportunity is there. Whether SanDisk can do it, remains to be seen. The general market might make the next stretch challenging.

    Do you remember when folks would moan about why couldn’t Dov be like Eli and FLSH like (nice and solid) SNDK? Find such recollections amusing (in a black kind of way). I shudder to think where the FLSH shares would be right now in this environment. Dov did good in selling when he did.

    Having been through a few of these cycles, my sense is that its only a matter of time til the excitement (and a higher share-price) returns. SanDisk is going to be OK if it can keep its eye on the ball. Whether it will ever be great is the outstanding question.

    An institutional broker friend who knew FLSH well was fond of saying that the time to buy FLSH was when he felt like puking. He remembers FLSH fondly.

    He is now following SNDK and tho he says he feels like puking, he’s still not buying This guy is really fed up with SNDK. It might be interesting to do an “interview” with him on the blog. Maybe I’ll run the idea by him. He would have to remain anonymous. His list of complaints easy tops yours. His mood might be blacker too. Might be therapeutic (and entertaining) for us all.

    Best,
    Savo

  13. savolainen says:

    See article below

    Note that these new SanDisk/Toshiba fabs “will [also] function as facilities to develop a memory chip that will succeed flash.” Matrix 3D r/w fits this description and timeframe (if progress is being made). SanDisk has talked about making a decision on 3D and how to proceed fab-wise this year. Right now SanDisk’s 3D chips are not being produced in the Toshiba/SanDisk fabs.

    **** article below ****

    Toshiba, SanDisk to Build Two Flash-Memory Plants (Update2)
    By Pavel Alpeyev

    Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) — Toshiba Corp., Japan’s largest chipmaker, said it will spend more than 1.7 trillion yen ($15.7 billion) with SanDisk Corp. to build two chip factories to challenge Samsung Electronics Co.

    Toshiba will share the funding and output of one of the plants with SanDisk, the world’s largest maker of memory cards, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement today. The two companies are still in talks about splitting costs and production at the second one.

    The factories will be built in Iwate, northern Japan, and Mie, near Osaka in the west of the country, the statement said. They will be capable of making chips out of 150,000 to 200,000 silicon wafers a month, Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida told reporters in Tokyo. That would roughly double current output.

    Toshiba, the world’s second-largest maker of flash memory for consumer electronics, and Milpitas, California-based SanDisk are increasing output to meet demand and overtake Samsung as the biggest maker of chips used to store songs and video in music players, game consoles and digital cameras. Nishida predicted in September Toshiba will gain the largest share this year.

    The factories will cost more than 1.7 trillion yen and will also function as facilities to develop a memory chip that will succeed flash, Nishida said without elaborating…

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=a5yLkxeMjfY0&refer=japan

  14. hapa says:

    Savo,
    The 3d race seems to be heating up baesd on the following links that I’ve stumbled upon. And you’ve also put out some information on Sandisk 3D using Antifuse and diode. I wish someone would ask Eli about this next week.

    Toshiba to pursue SONOS for 3D:
    http://www.fabtech.org/content/view/2989/

    http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=E5TWQQWEDWZFCQSNDLPCKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=204801538

    Samsung on 3D with FG:
    http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/NEWS_EN/20080208/147232/

    Quote from the link below.
    ” …If I was a betting man, I’d say that we see some of the first stacked memory in high end Samsung phones. Think about it….they’ve already shown us the stacked technology and they are a major player in the cell phone market….what better chance to test the waters for stacked memory….makes sense correct ??

    Recall, way back in 2006 Samsung announced the company’s first 3-D prototypes based on its WSP ( wafer-level stack process). A 16-Gbit memory device composed of eight stacked, 50-micron thick , 2-Gbit NAND flash die which are a combined 0.56 mm in height was fabricated. The stacked device showed a 15 percent smaller footprint and is 30 percent thinner than an equivalent wire-bonded solution. WSP also reduced the length of the interconnects, resulting in an approximately 30 percent increase in performance due to reduced electrical resistance. Samsung’s WSP technology uses lasers to form the TSV which reportedly reduces production cost significantly as it eliminates the typical photolithography-related processes required for mask-layer patterning. The now famous photo and cross section have been shown many times in many places, but I’ll include it again here in case there are any readers who have not seen it.

    Since Samsung also has a 15 – 20% market share in the CIS market (CMOS Image Sensor) this also appears to be another no brainer. We already know that 3D CIS technology can make use of laser via formation ( see Perspectives from the Leading Edge “Imaging Chips with TSV Announced for Commercialization” – Oct 27th 2007 ) and Samsung has already shown they have such laser via processing available for their stacked memory. Although they have not yet discussed TSV for CIS, this certainly appears to be a logical baby step for them.

    Highly placed managers and engineers in Samsung report that a complete information freeze on projects using 3D technology has been ordered from the very top. Anyone who can pry information loose on when they will commercialize is a better man than I. Another one that we’ll just have to ruminate on for awhile.”

    http://www.semiconductor.net/blog/200000420/post/1510021551.html

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