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Data Storage Hardware

New Manufacturing Technology Enables Vertical 3D Transistors 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the losing-the-flatland-market-segment dept.
MrSeb writes "Applied Materials has taken the wraps off a new etching system meant to turn vertically stacked, three-dimensional transistors from lab experiments into commercial reality. The new Centura Avatar solves multiple problems facing manufacturers who are interested in 3D NAND but find their current equipment not up to the task of actually building it. According to the folks at Applied Materials, trying to build 3D NAND structures in real life would be like trying to dig a one-kilometer-deep, three-kilometer-long trench with walls exactly three meters apart, through interleaved rock strata — and that's before we discuss gate trenches or the staircases. While this machine specifically targets 3D NAND today, a number of the challenges to scaling flash memory apply to scaling CPU logic as well. As for when 3D chips will be available for commercial purchase, Applied Materials was vague on that point, but personally I would expect to see companies adopting the new etch equipment in the next few years."
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New Manufacturing Technology Enables Vertical 3D Transistors

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  • wait wut? (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @03:11PM (#40471509)

    Yes, yes! I really did not read TFA but come the fuck on. Intel's Ivy Bridge was announced a few years ago and the product has been available for months now.

    Is this yet another example of slashdot admin's time travel or what?

  • Re:wait wut? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @03:25PM (#40471667)

    This technology bears about the same resemblance to what Intel is doing as anaglyph 3D does to a hologram. Intel basically just stuck a 3rd gate on top of two others, stacking normal planar transistors. It's "3D" in the technical sense, but only barely. This new(ish) technology takes essentially a single block and molds it into arbitrarily many levels of transistors, so you can have a stack of dozens or hundreds deep. Much more difficult, and potentially far more rewarding.

  • Re:wait wut? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pinky's Brain (1158667) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @03:26PM (#40471697)

    They aren't talking about non planar FETs ... their 3D NAND requires a far higher anisotropy (the whole 1 km deep 3 m wide bit).

  • Not the first... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sooner Boomer (96864) <sooner.boomr@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @03:50PM (#40471957) Journal

    I don't believe this is actually the *first* fab process using vertical structures (having actually RTFA). I worked at Texas Instruments in the mid-80's and most of the ALS (Advanced Low power Schottky) devices were of vertical well construction (as opposed to planar process or lateral junction bipolar construction). Looks like the sizes are a lot smaller, and the ratio of depth to width is a lot higher (a lot more junctions stacked in one well).

  • Re:wait wut? (Score:4, Informative)

    by MarioMax (907837) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @04:23PM (#40472283)

    Yeah, I'm not sure what they plan on doing about that. Seems like it could be a major issue. They might not even have a solution to that yet, although TFA seems to be thinking this is going to be used for Flash memory, rather than CPU transistors, which makes heat considerably less of an issue.

    NAND memory, and memory in general, is generally first in adopting new process technologies. It's far easier to make (relatively simple) memory circuits (generally consisting of a tiny number of transistors) than it is to make (relatively complex) logic circuits (consisting of orders of magnitude more transistors).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @06:31PM (#40473529)

    You have to understand that inside one of these "drives" is really a computer with a CPU running embedded software, I/O controllers talking to the SATA host bus, large RAM for buffering data, and a lower level flash interface to manipulate the actual flash storage. The device is then implementing a kind of filesystem on top of the raw flash, keeping track of free/erased flash blocks, wear levels, and the logical mapping to SATA block addresses.

    The entire contents disappearing is not due to flash memory losing all its state at once. It is due to buggy firmware on these "drives" crapping itself and corrupting its own filesystem metadata. This is likely due to it not doing safe journaling, e.g. it performs unsafe flash write sequences that leave flash in an unexpected state if they are interrupted due to power loss or firmware bugs/resets. This is a bit like our old filesystems before they did journaled metadata for crash recovery.

    I wish manufacturers would expose the flash storage and allow the OS to manage this layer, but they're too busy profiting from the illusion of firmware as just another part of the hardware. Everything seems to be trending towards more elaborate embedded software that we cannot review or maintain separately from the devices containing it, forcing artificial lifetime limits on the products.

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