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The global NAND flash market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.13% from 2018 to 2022, according to Research and Markets' "Global NAND Flash Market 2018-2020" report. The shift to 3D NAND flash technology is expected to be a key driver of that growth.
3D NAND is non-volatile flash memory that was developed to overcome density issues associated with planar NAND, often referred to as 2D NAND. NAND is one of two types of non-volatile flash memory; NOR flash memory is the other type.
3D NAND can be used in the same applications as planar NAND with lower cost per gigabyte. 3D NAND generally uses multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash, which stores 2 bits per cell, or triple-level cell (TLC) NAND flash, which stores 3 bits per cell. Quad-level cell (QLC) NAND stores 4 bits per cell and is beginning to be used in 3D NAND.
NAND flash has historically experienced cyclical periods of shortages and oversupply that last about two years each. Prices spike during the shortages and then fall when manufacturers invest profits in new fabs and ramp up additional production, resulting in oversupply. Late 2018 has been a period of oversupply, bringing NAND prices down.
There are advantages and disadvantages specific to 3D NAND and particularly QLC 3D NAND. It's important to understand them to make good decisions about when 3D NAND flash technology is right for your organization's applications and when to go with other memory technology.
See how your knowledge of NAND and 3D NAND flash memory stacks up by taking our quiz below.