Intel NAND Roadmap2 ONFI 3.0 forces Intel to move to BGA NAND packaging

If you've ever seen a picture of an opened SSD or the inside of an SD card, you'll have noticed that the NAND Flash chips used are of the TSOP (Thin Small-Outline Package) variety, i.e. an oblong chip with small pins of the short ends. TSOP is a fairly standard packaging for a wide range of computer ICs, but it seems like more advanced technology will soon see it passed into the history books as far as NAND Flash is concerned.

If you've ever seen a picture of an opened SSD or the inside of an SD card, you'll have noticed that the NAND Flash chips used are of the TSOP (Thin Small-Outline Package) variety, i.e. an oblong chip with small pins of the short ends. TSOP is a fairly standard packaging for a wide range of computer ICs, but it seems like more advanced technology will soon see it passed into the history books as far as NAND Flash is concerned.

According to Intel's NAND Flash roadmaps we're looking at a move towards BGA (Ball Grid Array) packaging as TSOP isn't advanced enough to handle the higher speeds required by new NAND Flash interfaces such as ONFI 3.0 (Open NAND Flash Interface). As such, all of Intel's enterprise level NAND Flash is already being transitioned to BGA packaging, both SLC and MLC products. For now the consumer (Intel refers to it as client) end of the market remains at TSOP as it's far cheaper to produce, but we'd expect things to look different come next year.

Intel NAND Roadmap2 ONFI 3.0 forces Intel to move to BGA NAND packaging

Intel is planning to move its 20nm NAND Flash SLC and MLC products to ONFI 3.0 towards the end of this year, but as you can see from the slide, this is likely to be its enterprise products. That said, the same roadmap also has a 20nm ONFI 2.2 product on it, but this is likely to also be a TSOP package. Intel is also looking at increasing the capacity per chip in the enterprise NAND chips, but the consumer level products remains at the same capacity, at least for now.

Intel NAND BGA Package ONFI 3.0 forces Intel to move to BGA NAND packaging

It's possible that by the time that Intel moves to ONFI 3.0 for its lower-end NAND Flash products we'll see an entirely different kind of packaging used for the NAND Flash, something that's a bit more affordable than BGA. Cost is of the essence and Intel knows that, but with increasing demands for faster NAND Flash the chip makers don't have a choice but to move to faster NAND Flash interfaces such as ONFI 3.0 which offers chip level speeds of up to 400MB/s. Intel's current products use a DDR-200 interface, while ONFI 3.0 uses an NV-DDR2 interface which has been designed to work better with NAND Flash. It's just a shame that in the SSD market space it's the enterprise section that gets the fast new toys to play with first and not the consumers, but if you have enough cash, you could always splash out on some enterprise grade hardware for home.