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Pricing for NAND flash devices hits severe downturn

Posted: 06 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NAND flas? memory? data storage?

Spot pricing for NAND flash devices fell by the largest percentage previously during five consecutive weeks of lower pricing, according to the latest analysis from market research firm Gartner Inc. DRAM spot pricing is stable or slightly down.

Recent Gartner analysis indicates that every NAND flash device price was flat or down, with the price declines led by mainstream 8Gbyte and 16Gbyte parts, which fell almost 12 percent and more than 7 percent, respectively. On a weighted 1Gbyte average, spot pricing fell nearly 8 percent, or 23 cents, reaching its lowest level this year at $2.68.

Gartner said inventories continue to plague the market, and cost reductions cannot come fast enough as all vendors migrate to finer-process geometries. This includes Intel and Micron Technology Inc., which recently launched a 34nm, 32Gbyte NAND flash memory device. "The market research firm also reports demand for flash cards and USB flash drives is not enough to counter the abundance of supply. Mobile phones remain the key for this year," said Gartner, "while the industry waits for the long-rumored 3G iPhone, which many believe will be announced anytime this month."

"The difference between this year in NAND flash and the previous years is that while handsets will be a pivotal driver, they fuel NAND demand from both the in-system and aftermarket micro flash cards. Consumers are force-fed NAND flash if it is in-system, but in the aftermarket, they have to choose the capacity they can afford, not the capacity that they want," noted Gartner.

"DRAM spot pricing in the previous week slowly declined due to lack of demand," he said. The market research firm also indicated that the industry hasn't reacted at all to previous news about Hynix Semiconductor's power outage at its DRAM fab complex in China Average spot pricing across all densities and technologies was down 6.8 percent compared with the previous week, at $2.25 on a 1Gbyte equivalent basis.

Overall, the DRAM supply-and-demand outlook for 2008 and 2009 remains the same. Gartner said the oversupply seen in the Q1 will continue until the end of the Q3. In Q4, there will be a slight undersupply, driven by strong seasonal demand. Gartner projected a slight oversupply in the 1H 09 because of seasonal demand patterns, with the remainder of 2009 in an undersupply situation.

Gina Roos
EE Times

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