Exec Tech Talk: A Glimpse at the Future of NAND Flash

By Darren Thomas - 2015-06-01

My last few posts have looked at how we’re solidly driving—not spinning (pun intended)—the Storage business here at Micron. We have an amazing team of storage visionaries and flash experts, we have the world’s best flash storage technology, and our future is bright. This enthusiasm extends beyond our Storage Business Unit; I had the opportunity to interview my boss, Senior VP of Micron Memory Solutions, Brian Shirley, to get his thoughts as well. Read on to see what he had to say. If you have a burning question I didn’t ask, tweet us @MicronStorage.

Darren Thomas: Thanks Brian for taking the time to engage in this blog chat. You’ve been in the memory industry for quite some time and have played an instrumental role in developing our key DRAM and NAND technologies over the years. What excites you most about our NAND business now?

Brian Shirley: I’m enthusiastic about the fact that in the most dynamic macro segments of the electronics industry, innovations in both NAND and DRAM are playing a dominant role in improving the user experience. This is true in mobile applications, in the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) segment, and of course, in data centers where we are starting to see a massive acceleration in the rate of solid state drive (SSD) adoption.

Darren Thomas:  The NAND flash industry is still quite young, yet the opportunities are vast. Can you talk about how we’re uniquely positioned to win in the NAND market?

Brian Shirley:  Micron is increasingly recognized as perhaps the best-positioned provider of NAND solutions by virtue of both our vertical collection of key NAND ingredients—from technology development in our own fabs to in-house controller and firmware development—as well as our horizontal collection of memory technologies that have the scale, reach, and expertise in not just NAND but DRAM and emerging memory technologies. Our customers understand that this expertise across memory and storage applications, as well as control of all the constituent pieces of a true solution, separates Micron from the competition.

Darren Thomas:  You make a great point. This industry is changing so fast, and because NAND flash is quickly entering into all aspects of storage, it’s absolutely fundamental to have an understanding of the underlying media. I’d like to elaborate here a bit—how do you see Micron accelerating the future of storage?

Brian Shirley: At the same time that the adoption rate of NAND is taking off in numerous applications—most notably in the data center space—NAND as a storage medium is going through major revolutionary changes. Planar technology is improving, but at a slower rate than in the past, and as we’ve disclosed previously, we’re in a leadership position with the key innovations and investments to productize truly breakthrough 3D NAND technology. We believe that by helping our customers unleash the potential of 3D technology into their systems, we’ll truly be accelerating the future of storage.

Darren Thomas: Exactly! It’s a very exciting time in the world of storage, which is great for Micron and our customers. As you well know, we’re busy building out our SSD capabilities by expanding our engineering teams and forming unique partnerships that will give customers greater access to this technology. What’s next? 

Brian Shirley: While we’re not going to disclose today all of the cool things we’re working on, we can say that we’re driving a number of breakthrough technologies that will further transform the user experience. Innovations in memory and storage technology will continue to drive major improvements to our customers’ systems, and Micron is committed to being the leader of this innovation!

Darren Thomas:  Thanks again, Brian, for providing us with a bit of a history lesson on Micron in flash and giving a glimpse into what’s to come.

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Darren Thomas

Darren Thomas