Home > NAND suppliers continue to evolve technology to deal with market pressures

NAND suppliers continue to evolve technology to deal with market pressures

Editorial
article image WHILE the NAND flash market was healthy in the last quarter of 2014, large suppliers are facing pressures such as competitive pricing and end-market demands.

WHILE the NAND flash market was healthy in the last quarter of 2014, large suppliers are facing pressures such as competitive pricing and end-market demands.

The new report from DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, indicates NAND supply will exceed demand in the first quarter of 2015, due to fluctuations in demand.

As a result, NAND prices will decline steeply, with NAND flash vendors such as Samsung, Toshiba and Sandisk due to speed up technology migration in order to improve their cost structures and minimise the impact of falling prices.

Samsung

Compared with the previous quarter, Samsung’s bit shipment volume for NAND flash in the fourth quarter posted an increase of 5 percent, while the average sell price fell nearly 10 percent.

In terms of quarterly revenue, Samsung saw a drop of 4.2 percent over the previous quarter. 1Q2015 will see Samsung experience single-digit growth in shipments.

However, Samsung’s bit shipment growth is expected to exceed the industry average of 35% to 40% because of the rise in SSD sales and the gradual maturation of 3D NAND flash technology.

Samsung is expected to focus on expanding its SSD market share, in direct competition with Intel. With TLC-SSD on the rise, Samsung will see strong growth in the supply of its SSDs to the PC and notebook markets.

Additionally, Samsung will benefit from a transition to mass production of 3D NAND flash products, which will be used in enterprise SSDs.

Toshiba

Toshiba’s revenue from NAND flash sales in the third fiscal quarter of 2014 (from October to December) was roughly the same as the previous quarter. However, the average selling price per unit dropped by 7 percent compared with the previous quarter, due to a depreciation of the Japanese yen, improved yield rates in the A19nm process, and ongoing migration to the 15nm process.

Toshiba is achieving good sales results from its strategy of integrating the A19-nm enterprise SSD products with its HDD product lines.

The Japanese firm is expected to increase sales of its own brand of SSD, eMMC, eMCP and memory card, while cutting back on sales of chips and wafers to improve margins.

Toshiba is continuing to move towards the 15nm process, with up to 50 percent of its production to be on this technology by the Northern Hemisphere’s summer of 2015. The supplier’s Fab5 plant will focus on 15nm production and 3D NAND flash pilot run.

Intel

Intel’s NAND flash operations have shown strong performances as electronic businesses in European, United States and China are entering their peak season, driving the growth of enterprise SSD shipment. Compared with the previous quarter, the average selling price in the fourth quarter of 2014 had a limited decline and bit shipments increased by more than 10 percent. Intel’s fourth quarter revenue grew to US $610 million, representing an increase of 25 percent compared with the same quarter of 2013.

In terms of product development, mass production of 16nm SSD products will begin in the first half of the year in order to reduce costs. Additionally, 3D NAND flash SSD products are expected to arrive at the end of the third quarter at the earliest, and this will reinforce Intel’s position as the leader of the enterprise SSD.

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