3D NAND will lead to bigger solid state drives, but it may not shave costs

intel-3d-nand-10tb-solid-state-drive
To say that Solid State Drives have become the standard for computing in the last few years would be an understatement. As the popularity of flash-based storage grows, so does the demand for increased speed and capacity without increased footprint.

Instead of the old planar method, where bits are laid out flat on a silicon wafer, manufacturers are moving towards 3D NAND, where the bits are stacked vertically. That means more memory in a smaller space, but a recent study by Stifel, an market research firm, found that in order for it to happen, manufacturers are making huge investments in the fabrication of the technology, a necessary step before production can begin in force. Investments that may not pay for themselves, even after years of sales and production.

One of the issues with producing 3D NAND chips is that they’re more complex than planar chips by a significant margin. While the previous generation of flash memory took only three or four deposition layers to build, 3D NAND takes between 120 and 144, according to the study. When you’re dealing with that many steps in an already complicated process, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Not every wafer ends up as a usable die, which can mean huge losses when they’re so expensive to produce in the first place. It’s hard to say how high those losses could be, considering that foundry operators keep yield percentages private.

That cost is only compounded when you consider the staggering amount that companies like Samsung, Intel, and Toshiba have already planned to spend on the new infrastructure. According to the Stifel study, the major brands have already planned over 18 billion dollars in spending to produce 3D NAND chips over the next few years. That’s a hefty investment, even by computing and chip manufacturing standards.

3D NAND isn’t going to immediately lead to big, cheap drives.

So what does this mean for you? 3D NAND chips will gradually become more popular until they pass planar construction in market share, but even through 2018 their supply may remain limited, and their cost will be high. It also means that memory with planar construction will stay in demand because of its lower price point. In short, 3D NAND isn’t going to immediately lead to big, cheap drives. The companies investing in the technology will need to recoup their investment first.

Gaming

From PUBG to Apex Legends, this is how battle royale happened

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in Twitch streaming and eSports.
Computing

G-Sync and FreeSync can make your games look better, but which is best?

There are some subtle differences between the two adaptive refresh technology offerings, and they affect cost, performance, and compatibility. Nvidia may have released it's feature first, but in recent years AMD has stepped up to the plate…
Cars

FWD vs. RWD vs. AWD: How the wheels that turn change the way you drive

Let's face it, you've likely heard front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive mentioned before in some context or another. But what do these terms mean, especially in terms of performance? We’ve got the answers.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our favorites, with all the features you want.
Computing

If you have $5,200, Apple has 256GB of RAM for your iMac Pro

Professionals looking to run intensive applications will be able to push their work a bit further with Apple's latest iMac Pro, which holds 256GB of DD4 ECC RAM for $5,200. Here's why it costs so much to upgrade your iMac Pro to the top.
Computing

Don’t be fooled! Study exposes most popular phishing email subject lines

Phishing emails are on the rise and a new study out by the cybersecurity company Barracuda has exposed some of the most common phishing email subject lines used to exploit businesses. 
Product Review

The Lenovo Legion Y740 brings RTX 2080 graphics power for under $2,500

Coming with the Intel Core i7-8750H processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, the Legion Y740 one big beast. But priced at under $2,500 how does Lenovo’s Legion stand up against the crowd?
Deals

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for March 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Computing

Oculus shows off the Rift S, plans to phase out its original VR headset

Oculus plans to phase out its flagship Rift VR headset for its newly created Rift S. The Rift S made its debut this week at the 2019 Game Developers Conference and is expected to be released in spring 2019.
Computing

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.
Computing

Get the best of both worlds by sharing your data on MacOS and Windows

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.
Computing

Give your MacBook Air some added style with one of these great cases or sleeves

Whether you’re looking for added protection or a stylish flourish, you’re in the right place for the best MacBook Air cases. We have form-hugging cases, luxurious covers, and padded sleeves priced from $10 to $130. Happy shopping!
Computing

Intel teases 9th-generation Core i9 mobile processors at GDC 2019

Intel teased its new 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processors at GDC 2019. The company offered few specifics about the hardware, but a leak from late February provides insight into what the new processors might offer.
Computing

Intel Command Center lays foundation for next year’s ‘Arctic Sound’ GPU

Intel revealed its new Command Center driver software at GDC 2019. The updated interface will control current Intel integrated graphics and also lays the groundwork for next year's Intel video card.