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NAND flash market to slow down in Q4, says iSuppli

Posted: 17 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:iSuppli? Toshiba? Samsung Electronics? Hynix Semiconductor? Intel?

Global revenue for the flash moves into new markets" target=_blank>NAND flash market reached $3.1 billion, exceeding iSuppli Corp.'s projectionbut fourth-quarter projection was lowered after disappointing sales of MP3 players.

Third-quarter revenues for NAND posted 11.8 percent growth from the previous quarter's $2.7 billion. As expected, per-megabyte NAND flash prices fell by 22 percent in the third quarter, while megabyte shipments grew by 44 percent.

"iSuppli is likely to trim its fourth quarter sales projection in the near future," said Nam Hyung Kim, director and principal analyst for memory ICs and storage systems at iSuppli. "iSuppli previously predicted 21 percent sequential sales growth for the fourth quarter. The primary cause of the reduced outlook was the market for flash-based MP3 players, whose sales appear to be falling short of expectations."

Industry performers
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd still topped the NAND supplier ranking in the third quarter, with a 43.1 market share. However, Samsung's sales increased by only 4.3 percent, enabling second-ranked Toshiba Corp. to close the gap. Toshiba's share in the third quarter trailed Samsung's by 15.3 percentage points, down from 21.6 points in the second quarter. Its sales for the period under review hit $849 million, up 26.2 percent from the previous quarter.

iSuppli attributed Toshiba's strong performance to the company's rapid rise in bit production. The company's sequential NAND flash bit production grew 70 percent during the third quarter, exceeding the industry average of 44 percent.

U.S.-based NAND flash up-and-comers Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc.'s growth was the strongest among all suppliers, with their sales rising by 127.8 percent and 35.3 percent on a sequential basis respectively. However, the growth came from a very small base as both companies are still developing their NAND-flash businesses.

The following table shows iSuppli's revenue ranking of NAND flash suppliers in the third quarter.

Source: iSuppli Corp.

Storage outlook

A positive development for the NAND flash market in the third quarter was a rapid growth in sales of Multi-Level Cell (MLC) parts. MLC allows storing of more than bit per memory cell, hence increasing NAND flash density.

In the third quarter, Samsung and Hynix Semiconductor Inc.'s production of NAND parts using MLC technology increased to 40 and 50 percent of total manufacturing, respectively, beating iSuppli's forecast. At the present rate of adoption, 80 percent of global NAND megabit production will use MLC technology by the first quarter of 2007, iSuppli forecasted.

Despite progress in the MLC segment, iSuppli is maintaining its negative near-term market rating for NAND flash due to the gloomy demand outlook late in the fourth quarter and in the first quarter of 2007.

However, improving margins for DRAM will compel suppliers to allocate more production for it over NAND. DRAM suppliers' NAND capacity represents 75 percent of global NAND output. iSuppli is predicting that this condition should lead to more positive pricing and supply conditions for NAND next year.

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