SHA256 is part of SHA-2 with 256 bit length.
SHA2 published in 2001 with three output sizes, which are 256 bit, 284 bit, and 512 bit. The 224 bit version added in 2004. Until the SHA3 publihed, the SHA2 algorithm still looks strong. This algorithm also designed by NIST and NSA (NSA also designed SHA1 algorithm).
The 256 bit version of this hash algorithm uses 64 steps that equal to 4 passes over the message, meanwhile the 512 bit version uses 80 steps that equal to 5 passes over the message.
Within the SHA2 family, the most popular one ins 256 bit version.
SHA2 uses Merke-Damgård construction which also used on MD4, MD5, RIPE-MD, RIPE-MD160, SHA0, SHA1.
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