Advanced NAND flash memory scaling prompts ECC acquisitions

January 17, 2012 — In December 2011, Apple was reported to acquire Anobit Technologies for half a billion dollars. Anobit is a 5-year-old start-up company developing advanced error correction code (ECC) and signal processing technologies. Research and Markets notes a trend of NAND flash memory advances — and Apple is the largest consumer of NAND flash — prompting chip companies to buy signal processing companies.

Apple’s Anobit Technologies acquisition follows a less widely known acquisition of Storage Genetics by Micron Technology in 2010. Storage Genetics also was developing advanced ECC and signal processing technologies. Also read: Analyst take: Inside Intel/Micron’s 25nm NAND device

NAND flash memories are scaling below 2Xnm process nodes and transitioning to 3-bit/cell, and bit errors are increasing. Traditional error correction codes such as BCH, RS and Hamming code will no longer be sufficient. These codes suffer from increased overhead in terms of coding redundancy and read latency as the number of errors corrected increases. In addition, the number of electrons stored in the memory cell is decreasing with each generation of flash memory, resulting in reduced signal/noise requiring enhanced sensing techniques.   

Digital signal processing technology has been used in the magnetic recording industry since the early 1990s, when partial-response maximum-likelihood technology (PRML) was commercialized. DSP technology is now being deployed in 3-bit per cell NAND flash memories and a concerted effort is being made by NAND flash manufacturers and a handful of startups to employ digital signal processing technology to improve the endurance and performance of next-generation NAND flash memories and solid state drives (SSD). Signal processing technology will be essential for the continued scaling of NAND flash memories.   

In its research report, ECC and Signal Processing Technology for Solid State Drives and Multi-bit  per cell NAND Flash Memories (2nd Edition), Research and Markets examines the current state of ECC techniques and explores the technology, roadmap, market, cost as well as the key players and startups in the flash signal processing space. For more information, visit

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