Memory cells – the chip components that store electronic data – include short-term volatile (such as DRAM) and long-term non-volatile (such as flash) storage types. DRAM is the mainstay for “working” (active) memory, while flash memory is used to store large amounts of data in a compact form. To increase device density for more storage capacity, DRAM features continue to shrink, and NAND flash has moved to 3D architectures, which raise additional processing challenges. For example, the numerous layers in 3D NAND are vulnerable to stress, and any imperfections in the high aspect-ratio channels can create electrical shorts and interference. Production of newer memory types that bridge the gap between active and storage classes is also difficult due to the use of novel, hard-to-process materials. As a result, exceptional process control, flexibility, and productivity are needed.
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