All in a Flash: How Flash Storage Changed the Way We Live

By April 19, 2022 No Comments

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If you’ve ever owned a digital music player, loaded saved progress on a gaming console, or used a smartphone—you’ve used flash storage. Each of these devices, plus countless others, have the same dependable memory tech at their core.

As the name suggests, flash storage runs extremely fast; it also retains information when a device is powered off and is easily rewriteable. As our devices become smarter and generate more data, fast and flexible memory solutions are in high demand. Set to be the next “big thing” in storage, let’s take a closer look at the ever-evolving, advanced semiconductor memory solution.

Great Things Come in Small Packages

Once considered quite the splurge, flash storage, including both NAND and NOR-based solutions, revolutionized not only the way we live but also how our devices operate. The real tech breakthrough facilitated by flash was the ability to store massive volumes of data in a tiny chip, reducing the size restrictions imposed by earlier storage components.

Recognizing the opportunity early on, SK hynix has been able to bolster its technological leadership by delivering the world’s first NAND flash solutions time and time again. Innovating smaller, faster, and lower energy-consuming storage components solidifies the company’s prime position in the market and provides meaningful solutions for the technological demands and environmentally conscious agendas of the ever-expanding tech sector.

SK hynix’s 176-layer NAND flash increases bit productivity by 35% compared to previous generation

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Each evolution of NAND flash memory has increased storage capacity through the formation of smaller active and gate using lateral scaling. Now developing 4D-NAND, SK hynix hi-gineers formed a peripheral circuit under the 3D-NAND cell, maximizing the chip’s storage capacity and lowering the cost. SK hynix premiered the world’s first 176-layer 4D NAND flash, the third generation of NAND flash product securing the industry’s best number of chips per wafer. This increasingly multi-layered technology supports the development of higher-capacity mobile devices such as terabyte-boasting smartphones and laptop computers with incredible storage capabilities.

More than a “Flash” in the Pan

Increasing the storage capacity of our devices is critical to continue to evolve technology in a manner that meets the needs of today’s society. In response to the recent pandemic, society has become increasingly dependent on digital technology. Retreating to our homes, transitioning to remote work, and relying on digital means to stay connected created a need for smart digital solutions capable of managing data volumes considerably larger than any other time in recent history.


Volume of data/information created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide from 2010 to 2025

The volume of data globally grew by more than 56% at the onset of the pandemic

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Increased demand for data centers and cloud-based server solutions has been mirrored by increased demand for efficient NAND flash solutions. The applications for NAND flash are also becoming more diverse. The list of possible uses is growing in step with demand; the technology is appearing in more than just mobile devices but enterprise SSDs and automotive technology too.

Flash-Forward to the Future

To truly harness the potential of NAND flash, the industry needs to improve materials and design structures, anticipating the next technical evolution of flash memory. One of SK hynix’s main areas of focus is securing etching technology able to realize the high-density requirements of the industry to capture opportunities like replacing HDDs in data centers with SSDs. It is predicted that it will be possible to stack over 600 layers of NAND in the future, making the application of flash virtually limitless.

SK hynix innovates for a greener future by optimizing technology through the lens of social value

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In addition to rising technological challenges and demands, the industry now faces a new mission of responding to social and environmental concerns, including its consumption of energy and other essential resources. Advancing both the technology and its production methods can lower the industry’s carbon footprint and build a more sustainable product for use in eco-friendly technologies.

Looking to the future, SK hynix predicts a truly smart world will come to fruition alongside semiconductor memory solutions, like NAND flash, that converge storage with logic to overcome performance limitations, allowing ultra-high-speed computation and storage possible in one place with lower energy demand.

SK hynix is committed to continuously evolving and advancing the memory semiconductor industry strategically to better answer the demand of novel technologies. Built better, built smarter, and built greener, advanced semiconductor memory solutions are sure to meet the global community’s needs in a flash.