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Mobile, SSDs boost NAND flash demand by 46% in 2013

Posted: 16 Jan 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3D-Nand Flash? smartphone? tablet? SSDs?

The increasing demand for SSD applications will drive the demand for NAND flash, which is expected to reach 36 per cent in 2014, while industry value is set to exceed $27 billion, according to a report from DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce. "More and more end devices are anticipated to equip NAND flash components as technological processes advance and lead to a gradual reduction in OEM manufacturing cost," Sean Yang, TrendForce's assistant vice president, said. The growth of smartphones, tablets, and SSDs helped boost NAND flash demand to 46 per cent in 2013, according to the report. Industry value, on the other hand, rose by nearly 22 per cent compared to 2012, and approximately reached $24.6 billion.

Looking at the area of technological migrations, an increasing number of NAND flash suppliers appear to be making a gradual move towards 1xnm technology since third quarter of 2013. With more and more 20nm-class SSDs, eMMCs, and eMCPs finding their way into mobile devices, the shipment proportion of 20nm and 1xnm products have risen past 90 per cent, effectively making them the mainstream NAND flash manufacturing technologies within the industry. Given the major obstacles associated with going below 1xnm, various NAND flash suppliers have begun to accelerate their development of 3D-NAND flash as a means to overcome the memory scaling limit. Samsung's decision in August to promote 3D-NAND flash-based server SSDs, notably, serves as another driving force behind the manufacturers' intention to speed up their 3D-NAND flash transitions.

Looking at the development progresses of the 3D-NAND flash manufacturers, Samsung has notably managed to shorten the time taken to integrate its controller and NAND flash chips following the development of its "V-NAND" technology in the second half of 2013. The technology has allowed the company to create high density memory products that take full advantage of 3D NAND flash's benefits.

Through the production of its 24-layer 128GB V-NAND chips, Samsung will be looking to make a major entrance in the server SSD market, and has already begun delivering samples to server vendors and data centres during the fourth quarter of 2013. The Korean company is currently ahead of all of its major competitors in terms of 3D NAND flash applications. Its "V-NAND" facilities will be based primarily in its existing Korean plant, as well as the newly established factory in Xi'an, China.

Using their own 3D-NAND flash technology, known as "BiCS," Toshiba and SanDisk will also be looking to exert major impact within the industry. The two manufacturers' 3D NAND flash products have already undergone various production tests since the second quarter of 2013, and are anticipated to be manufactured using 1Y and 1Znm technology in 2015. In an attempt to facilitate the mass production of its 3D NAND flash products, the Fab 5 "second phase" construction initiated by Toshiba at its Yokkaichi plant will likely be completed during the third quarter of this year. The products' standard production, meanwhile, is expected to start as early as fourth quarter.

Looking at SK Hynix, Micron, and Intel, each are expected to migrate to 16nm technology as they begin transitioning towards 3D NAND flash products. The said companies' test samples are anticipated to be delivered to clients during the second quarter, while the mass production stages are expected to take place in the fourth quarter. Regarding 2014 as a whole, TrendForce projects 3D-NAND flash will only account for an estimated 3 per cent of the NAND flash industry's overall supply, given that most of the manufacturers would still be stuck in the testing and sample delivery phase. However, the overall development of 3D NAND flash is happening a lot faster than expected, and with mass production likely to take place next year, 3D-NAND flash market share is likely to rise up to as much as 20 per cent in 2015. The NAND flash unit cost is expected to lower rapidly and become cheaper per storage unit as 3D NAND flash technology matures.

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