By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics has agreed to supply Google with its advanced three-dimensional NAND flash (3D NAND) solid state drives (SSD).
This deal is considered another huge boost for Samsung to go ahead of its chief overseas rivals in the race for development of 3D NAND technology, said officials.
"The agreement calls for Samsung to supply 3D NAND SSD products for Google datacenters. Samsung is in discussions with Google to end some minor differences such as guaranteed shipments and pricing," an executive from a Samsung Electronics partner company told The Korea Times, Tuesday.
The exact value of the deal is unknown, but the executive said the worth is "sizeable."
A Samsung Electronics spokesman declined to comment on the agreement. Google representatives were not immediately available for comment either.
The deal comes a few days after its chief U.S.-based memory chip rival Micron Technology teamed up with Intel for their new 3D NAND technology.
Samsung's factory in Xian, China ― the main location to fabricate 3D NAND chips ― will increase its annual shipments of 3D NAND chips to 960,000 wafers this year, from last year's estimated 480,000, according to research firms.
From a technology point of view, 3D NAND is a type of flash memory that stacks memory die on top of each other within a single package using specialized interconnectors. The vertical stacking allows for a significantly higher density of memory cells and improves performance and reliability.
The 3D NAND is a breakthrough in overcoming the density limit currently facing the planar (2D) NAND architecture and floating gates used in conventional flash memory, as well as yielding speed and endurance improvements.
3D NAND SSDs for datacenters have higher margins than those used in portable devices such as notebooks and smartphones ad datacenters need more storage capacity and faster speeds for data-processing.
In a related note, Samsung previously agreed with Amazon to export its 3D NAND technology, while Apple was testing the quality of Samsung 3D NAND SSDs as the iPhone designer also intends to use Samsung products. Facebook is another target for Samsung to promote its 3D NAND SSDs.
Samsung seeks to improve its 3D NAND technology as the world's biggest memory chip producer believes it will be an important growth driver.
In August 2013, Samsung released the first-generation SSDs for datacenters and the company released the 3D NAND SSDs in October last year.
While Samsung has first mover advantage, SanDisk, Toshiba and SK hynix are also well positioned to benefit from the industry's shift and come up with their 3D NAND offerings.
Samsung, however, say it will be several generations ahead and will have solved the teething problems of controller design and other architectural issues.