The production of 3D NAND memory involves using a special spatial arrangement with vertical connections between layers in chips. Until now, the American company Lam Research had complete control over the market for this technology. However, Japanese company Tokyo Electron has managed to develop a more productive method for producing 3D NAND chips, which will increase the number of memory layers to 400.

GNEWS - Tokyo Electronics Develops 400-Layer Stacked 3D NAND Flash Memory  Technology

In June of this year, Tokyo Electron introduced its hole-etching method for forming vertical interconnects in 3D NAND chips. This new approach to hole etching improves productivity by two and a half times compared to the existing method. Additionally, Tokyo Electron's technology has less harmful effects on the environment.

Tokyo Electron plans to release specialized equipment based on this technology, allowing it to challenge Lam Research and provide its customers with more productive options for producing 3D NAND memory. Tokyo Electron predicts that its customers will be able to begin producing 3D NAND memory with 400 layers within the next two or three years.

Currently, the segment of 3D NAND layer etching equipment is the largest in the silicon wafer etching equipment market. Tokyo Electron forecasts that the capacity of this segment will quadruple by 2027 to $2 billion compared to the current year.

Last fiscal year, Tokyo Electron sold approximately $3.9 billion worth of etching equipment, which accounted for about a quarter of its total revenue. With the introduction of this new technology, the company expects to at least double its core revenue. In the semiconductor industry's market for etching systems, which had a turnover of $20 billion last year, Tokyo Electron held second place with a 25% share, while Lam Research remained the leader with a 50% share.

Over the past five years, Tokyo Electron has significantly increased its research and development spending, resulting in the development of this new technology for etching holes in 3D NAND chips. The company plans to spend a record $1.34 billion on research and development this year, despite expected declines in profits. Tokyo Electron is also utilizing artificial intelligence for developing new materials used in production.

By 2025, as memory manufacturers begin investing in modernizing their facilities, Tokyo Electron will have the opportunity to further strengthen its market position.