During 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?”
Micron has announced that it is sampling a new 128Gb NAND flash chip based upon a 16nm process, with production slated for the fourth quarter. To The Memory Guy’s knowledge this is the tightest process available.
The company, with its partner Intel, gained a lead with its 20nm process generation through its use of a Hi-k tunnel dielectric, a new material that replaces more conventional silicon dioxide layer with a new material (Micron won’t say what) that yields the same capacitance with a thinner layer. This has become very important with today’s tight processes because of issues of inter-cell interference.
Other NAND makers are migrating to Continue reading “Micron NAND Reaches 16nm”
The December issue of the IEEE Spectrum includes a fascinating article about a 100 million cycle flash memory developed by Macronix. The company will present this design at at IEDM this month.
In brief: Macronix’ researchers buried a heater in the array to heat the tunnel dielectric, annealing out the disruptions & traps that might cause a bit to fail.
A prototype has so far been tested more than 100 million cycles and it shows no sign of impending failure. Researchers believe that it is likely to reach one billion or more cycles, but such testing will take several months. This just may be able to Continue reading “Macronix Solves Flash Wear Problem”
NAND 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”
Someone recently asked The Memory Guy to comment on a projection that NAND flash bit consumption was headed into a period of reduced growth. This appears to have stemmed from a comment made by another memory analyst.
This drove me to compile this report’s graphic, which compares historical bit growth for DRAM (bottom, black line) against that of NAND flash (upper red line). Although NAND started out with astronomical annual bit growth of nearly 250%, it declined in 2011 to around 70%. This brings it closer to DRAM’s rate that ranges around 50%.
This is not cause for alarm – when the NAND market was very small bit growth was expected to be high. Large demand upturns could be relatively easily accommodated. Today’s multibillion-dollar capacity additions require more careful planning. This is the Law of Large Numbers.
We are at a point where NAND bit growth will probably settle into a range similar to that of DRAM. Consumption will be limited by economics, since production increases involve huge capital expenditures.
So, in a way, we are more headed out of a period of declining bit growth than going into one.
Objective Analysis has produced a report: Understanding the NAND Market, that is available for immediate download from our website.
A colleague recently asked me to verify that the DRAM business has had zero net profits over its entire history. This is something he had heard at a technology event that really surprised him.
I have often heard this story myself, for DRAM as well as for flash (both NAND and NOR) but I had never put in the time to test the assertion.
This statement is certainly attention grabbing, and because of that presenters everywhere will find some way to include this “fact” into their slideshows. “But is it true?” he asked me.
Well, I can’t call myself “The Memory Guy” without having an answer to this question, so I Continue reading “Is DRAM Really a Profitless Business?”
In 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%”
It seems that DRAM makers are still unaware of the impact NAND flash will have on DRAM revenues. Even though many are paying a lot of attention to the impact of the Tablet PC on Notebook PC shipments, few understand that even a healthy notebook market will start to place a decreasing focus on the system DRAM in the near future.
The reason why is simple, and it’s explained in great detail in a report: How PC NAND will Undermine DRAM. In a nutshell, once a basic minimum DRAM requirement has been met, NAND flash yields a greater performance return per dollar than does DRAM. This is illustrated in the graphic to the left.
Forget about the fact that NAND flash is nonvolatile, and that it offers Continue reading “Why DRAM Bit Growth will Suffer”
Some recent news mentioned cMLC flash, which is short for “consumer MLC.” This term is used to differentiate between the cheapest available product, mainstream MLC, and products that are aimed at the computing segment, and thus carry higher price tags.
There are several of these higher-end products. Some have longer endurance, like eMLC and SLC flash. Some have faster interfaces, like ONFi and Toggle Mode. Then there are the combinations of these: a fast interface with enhanced reliability.
There are disadvantages to these. The consumer market Continue reading “What is cMLC Flash?”
Today I saw an announcement from another market research firm about a new report with flash memory market shares for 2011. I found it remarkable that the way these chips are counted varies enough that the company decided to openly discuss this issue right in the press release for the report!
Memory market statistics are compiled by numerous firms: The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) sold in the US and Europe by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), Gartner Dataquest, IHS iSuppli, Web Feet, Semico, Forward Insights, and even DRAMexchange. Lots of entities use conflicting definitions of what is and what is not a chip. This causes each company’s numbers to differ from the others’.
In the case of WSTS, a chip that is packaged with another chip into a board becomes Continue reading “Figuring Out Who Shipped What”