US-based DRAM giant Micron Technology (distributed by Arrow ) is planning to dip into the lucrative NAND Flash memory market. NAND is the faster growing part of the memory market, fuelled by the demand for high-performance, low-cost Flash solutions in mobile applications.
The company intends to “aggressively enter the market” with its first NAND Flash solution, a 2-GByte component, becoming available to customers before the end of 2004.
NAND Flash has become the industry’s most sought after technology, with some industry analysts saying the it is replacing DRAM as the sectors process driver. (See Electronics News 1 Mar 04 page 20.) NAND market leaders Samsung and Toshiba expect some shortages until the end of 2004. Other new NAND suppliers are Infineon Technologies and a collaboration between STMicroelectronics and Hynix.
NAND now represents 40 percent of the overall (NAND plus NOR) Flash market. Two years ago it represented only 10 percent.
The rise in importance of NAND has resulted in a big turnaround in the Flash market leadership. Intel has led the market with a NOR type device for over a decade but, in the third quarter of 2003, Samsung and Toshiba overtook the former number one and Spansion.
“Micron plans to break into the market as one of the top three suppliers,” says Jan du Preez, a VP with Micron. “Our NAND roadmap reflects multiple configurations and density migrations up to 16Gb. We anticipate ramping production quickly to meet the forecasted market demand.”
If Micron uses a floating gate approach for its device, it will have to address the issue of IP - which is controlled by Toshiba, reports David Manners in Electronics Weekly (A UK-based sister title to Electronics News). Some new NAND entrants, like Infineon and FASL, have avoided the IP issue by licensing the alternative NROM technology developed by Saifun of Israel. Renesas has its own technological approach called assist-gate AND.