New Group Simplifies NAND Flash Integration

Standard Interface to Accelerate Time to Market for NAND-based Products

SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 9, 2006 – Hynix Semiconductor, Intel Corporation, Micron Technology, Phison Electronics Corporation and Sony Corporation are among the founding companies that today announced the formation of the Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFi) Working Group. The mission of the ONFi Working Group is to simplify integration of NAND Flash memory into consumer electronics (CE) devices and computing platforms. These leading companies are jointly defining an enhanced chip-level standard interface for the attachment of NAND Flash memory to host systems.

Today, use of NAND Flash in CE devices and computing platforms is hampered by the lack of sufficient standardization. To support a new NAND Flash part on a platform, host software and hardware changes are often required, even when the new NAND Flash part is supplied by the same vendor. Implementing host changes can be extremely costly due to the new testing cycle required and can cause slower rates of adoption for new NAND Flash devices.

“An improved common interface is critical to reducing or eliminating software changes and long qualification cycles when using a new NAND Flash part,” said Takashi Yamanishi, Deputy General Manager, Standards and Partnership, Sony Corporation.

To enable a fast industry transition to the new interface, ONFi will exploit existing commonalities between current NAND devices. The interface will enable NAND devices to self-describe their capabilities to the host, including memory layout, timing support and enhanced features. The specification will also standardize the command set for NAND, put infrastructure in place for future evolution of NAND capabilities, and provide flexibility for supplier-specific optimizations. Additionally, the specification will define common pin-outs in order to avoid board layout changes when using a new NAND device.

“Intel sees potential for explosive growth of NAND Flash in Intel-based platforms and is pleased to work with our industry partners to eliminate barriers to efficiently integrating the technology in new products,” said Knut Grimsrud, Intel Fellow and Director of Storage Architecture.

The group continues to work with other industry-leading companies, including NAND suppliers, to form the board of directors. Additional founding members are expected to be announced within the quarter as the process is completed. The specification is scheduled to be completed by the ONFi Working Group in the second half of 2006.

“Establishing a standard interface technology will help companies accelerate time to market and enable new products to use NAND-based memory,” said Celeste Crystal, senior research analyst for IDC. “Working together to establish an industry standard, such as ONFi, will help simplify the integration of NAND Flash memory into PCs and consumer electronics.”

Member Support
“Micron is very pleased to support the ONFi initiative, which we believe is a significant step forward to increase the adoption of NAND Flash into the mobile, media, and computing markets. ONFi is a critical step in the development of these markets by providing customers with a mass storage solution that offers faster design cycle times and simplified logistics,” said Achim Hill, Director of Micron’s Flash Product Marketing.

“As a controller manufacturer and system integration provider, Phison is very excited to be a part of ONFi,” said K.S. Pua, President of Phison Electronics. “A standard interface enables us to anticipate the upcoming Flash behavior, reduce firmware development effort and accelerate our product delivery schedule.”

“NAND Flash interface standardization will benefit the industry by simplifying product development for solutions utilizing NAND Flash technology,” states Dr. Alan J. Armstrong, Vice President of Marketing for Marvell’s Storage Business Unit. “Marvell is eager to leverage its storage semiconductor expertise in support of this initiative.”

“Without a consistent specification for NAND Flash interfaces, developers face an inefficient and error prone process for integrating NAND devices into new designs,” said David Lin, Vice President of Product Marketing at Denali Software. “We currently maintain a database of several hundred simulation models to represent all the unique NAND Flash components. Denali customers, and the industry at large, can benefit greatly from a standard that guarantees interoperability between devices. We are proud to join the ONFi initiative, and we look forward to participating in this industry effort to develop a NAND Flash interface standard.”

Blair Cook
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