SIA: Memories Drive Record Semi Revenues

SIA LogoThe SIA yesterday released the WSTS semiconductor sales data for September.  Monthly revenues reached a record $27 billion driving third-quarter revenues to their own record of $81 billion.  This was the seventh straight month of semiconductor growth, the first such run-up since 2010.

This quote, by SIA CEO Brian Toohey really caught The Memory Guy’s eye: “Sales of memory products have increased sharply compared to last year and continue to be a major driver of industry growth.”

A lot has been happening to drive this increase in memory revenues: The recent SK hynix fire increased DRAM prices, but Continue reading “SIA: Memories Drive Record Semi Revenues”

3D NAND: Making a Vertical String

Toshiba's Original BiCS Diagram - IEDM 2007Let’s look at how one form of 3D NAND is manufactured.  For this post we will explore the original design suggested by Toshiba at the IEEE’s International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM) in 2007.  It’s shown in the first graphic of this post.  (Click on any of the graphics for a better view.)

Toshiba calls this technology “BiCS” for “Bit Cost Scaling.”  The technique doesn’t scale the process the way the world of semiconductors has always done to date – it scales the cost without shrinking the length and width of the memory cell.  It accomplishes this by going vertically, as is shown in this post’s first graphic.

This takes a special effort. This is where the real Continue reading “3D NAND: Making a Vertical String”

Hynix Recovery – Not so Soon?

Hynix Wuxi FireDuring SK hynix’ October 29 earnings call the company further clarified the status of its Wuxi fab line that was hit by a fire on September 4.  In brief, the company may miss its expected end-November date to recover to full operation.

Interestingly, although DRAM bit shipments declined by 2% because of the fire, revenues increased by 3% thanks to price increases caused by the resulting tight DRAM supply.  This gave the company a revenue boost taking total semiconductor revenues from ₩3.93 trillion ($3.54B US) in the second quarter to ₩4.08 trillion ($3.66B US) in the third quarter.  Not only was this revenue a record number for SK hynix, but margins also reached a record high.

All in all, it was a very good quarter, despite the fire, and perhaps because of it.

The company disclosed that restoration of the air ventilation system and the clean room have been Continue reading “Hynix Recovery – Not so Soon?”

Hynix Squeaks Out Another Update

Hynix Wuxi FireIn its own uniquely minimalistic style, Hynix has updated the status of the second line of its Wuxi fab, the one that was hit by a fire on September 4:

We would like to provide the following update on the recovery status of  SK Hynix Wuxi fab that was affected by the fire on Wednesday September 4, 2013. The air ventilation system and cleanroom in the line that was affected by the fire have now been substantially restored, and we have resumed partial utilization in this line from Thursday October 10, 2013. We will gradually raise utilization and make every effort to recover normalized level of pre-fire utilization in November as planned.

This statement should put to rest Continue reading “Hynix Squeaks Out Another Update”

Hybrid Memory Cube Making Progress

Conceptual Cutaway Drawing of the Hybrid Memory CubeOn Tuesday the HMC Consortium (that’s short for “Hybrid Memory Cube”) announced that members have agreed upon a specification.  The consortium has been moving rapidly, meeting its targets despite the revolutionary nature of the interface.

As a reminder, this technology stacks multiple DRAMs in a single package with a logic chip at the base of the stack that performs all the signalling to the rest of the system.  Signals between the DRAMs and logic chip use through-silicon vias (TSVs) as interconnections.  This allows the technology to deliver 15 times the performance of DDR3 at only 30% of the power consumption.  The Memory Guy first posted about the HMC in late 2011.

The consortium explains that the HMC interface already has 100 adopters, and that a few Continue reading “Hybrid Memory Cube Making Progress”

Why Most NAND Rankings Ignore SanDisk

SanDisk Doesn't Show Up in NAND Market Share FiguresEvery so often I run into someone who asks about the discrepancy between various analysts’ NAND market share rankings and SanDisk’s shipments.  After all, SanDisk is a leading producer of flash memory and has captive manufacture through its joint venture with Toshiba.  Yet, most market share rankings leave SanDisk out.

What’s going on here?

Owing to a long-standing convention SanDisk’s NAND chips aren’t counted since they are sold as “Systems” (with a controller.)  The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) set that rule up, and most analysts Continue reading “Why Most NAND Rankings Ignore SanDisk”

Is there a NAND Shortage? Not quite.

NAND Weekly Spot Price per GB - Up Slightly SInce JulyThe trade press has recently carried reports of a NAND shortage which The Memory Guy finds to be very premature.  True, NAND prices are not at their lowest point – today NAND can be found for 38 cents per gigabyte, up from a low of 31 cents in July.  But does this constitute a shortage?  No, not really.

One of the key indicators of a shortage is a crossover between spot and contract pricing – during an oversupply spot pricing is lower than contract pricing since OEMs and suppliers both place excess product on the market and compete on price.  During a shortage the opposite is true – suppliers don’t have any Continue reading “Is there a NAND Shortage? Not quite.”

Does the ‘Windows Bump’ Really Exist?

Windows Introductions vs DRAM Bit GrowthDRAM manufacturers often refer to “The Windows Bump” – a phenomenon that is believed to occur after every release of a new version of the Windows operating system.  According to this theory DRAM demand increases for a period following an introduction.

An example: in a recent article Kingston VP Scott Chen said that an increase in sales for Windows 8 might help raise DRAM demand, leading to more stable prices.

Demand is expected to pick up on the upcoming launch of Windows 8 tablets and Ultrabook PCs later in the second half of 2012.

Does the Windows Bump really exist?  The Memory Guy thought Continue reading “Does the ‘Windows Bump’ Really Exist?”

Samsung Revenues Reflect NAND Price Increase

Samsung Memory Revenue History 3Q09-2Q12NAND prices have increased since July, and that appears to have helped Samsung to increase its memory revenues in the past quarter.  That comes as a welcome change!

As this post’s graphic illustrates the company has has seen downward-trending memory revenues for five of the past six quarters, but Q2 revenues increased by ten percent.  Interestingly enough, the last quarter-to-quarter increase was a miniscule 0.3% one in Q2 of 2011.  It looks as if growth tends to regularly occur in Samsung’s second quarter.

Last quarter’s revenue growth helps to debunk rumors that Samsung was Continue reading “Samsung Revenues Reflect NAND Price Increase”

Toshiba to Cut NAND Production by 30%

Toshiba's Fab 5 in YokkaichiIn a surprise announcement Toshiba has said that it will immediately cut NAND flash production by approximately 30%.  The company explains that this is being done “to reduce inventory in the market and improve the overall balance between supply and demand.”  Toshiba’s release implies that this move is expected to improve prices, which have dropped as low as $0.31/GB recently.

By common measures of market share, which typically leave out SanDisk (for reasons too complex to discuss here) Toshiba holds a share of roughly 30% of the NAND flash market.  By cutting its output by 30% Toshiba would be reducing overall NAND supply by 10%.  If we were to include SanDisk, then that percentage would decrease to about 7.5%.  Either one of these is significantly more than Continue reading “Toshiba to Cut NAND Production by 30%”