Image: Salon.

The Consumer Electronics Show has set the tech industry to a great start in 2017, following a week of amazing presentations and product unveilings that end this Sunday.

While many of the exhibitions were flashy and made headlines around the world, other significant developments flew under the radar, and they deserve some love. Such is the case of 3D NAND technology.

With demands for larger memory capacity and enhanced performance on the rise, 3D NAND standards seem to be the answer. The architecture has existed for some time, but 2017 could be the year it sees a wider adoption in the mainstream market.

Companies such as Intel have introduced over the years brand series of 3D NAND-based SSDs for consumers, businesses, and data centers. Soon, we could see this technology making its way into our smartphones, laptops, and other gadgets.

What is an SSD?

Kingstone 480gb solid state drive
Kingstone 480gb solid state drive. Image: Kingstone.

A solid-state drive or SSD is a storage unit for computers that offers several advantages over traditional industry standards such as hard disk drives or HDDs.

Opposite to HDDs or optical disk units, SSDs are not mechanical. That means they have no moving components, which in turn makes them faster options when it comes to reading and writing information.

SSDs and HDDs differ little from each other regarding design, but mechanical units tend to hold more storage capacity due to its inner build. In contrast, solid drives can operate faster more silently, with less power, and in a more reliable manner.

What is NAND?

NAND is a flash memory architecture present in storage devices like SSDs, which arranges multiple storage cells across a single circuit board.

The fundamentals of NAND memory made it so the technology would, eventually, reach a limit for how small the storage cells can be and how many can fit on a  motherboard.

Manufacturers around the world have managed to squeeze out as much as possible from the NAND standard, managing to produce SSD units capable of storing terabytes of data in the same form factor as an HDD, although at higher prices.

What is 3D NAND?

3D NAND takes a new approach to traditional NAND memory by adding a new dimension to storage cell design. This architecture not only lays out cells across the board but also stacks layers on top of each other like the floors in a building.

As many can infer, 3D NAND not only increases capacity but also all the other aspects that make it the industry choice for SSD memory in laptops and other devices nowadays.

However, the concept of 3D NAND opens the possibility to new form factors that had not been considered previously due to the inherent limitations of NAND. As such, mobile devices like tablets and smartphones could start adopting new memories with much higher capacity, faster performance, and lower costs soon.

Desktops and data centers that demand even higher performance standards also benefit from 3D NAND, but companies like Intel and other tech leaders are already developing cost-effective solutions like 3D XPoint for these machines.

Source: Consumer Technology Association