It’s earnings call season, and we have heard of a slowing DRAM market and NAND flash price declines from Micron, SK hynix, Intel, and now Samsung. DRAM prices have stopped increasing, and that can be viewed as a precursor to a price decline.
Samsung’s 31 October, 2018 3Q18 earnings call vindicated Objective Analysis‘ forecast for a 2H18 downturn in memories that will take the rest of the semiconductor market with it.
Those familiar with our forecast know that for a few years we have been predicting a downturn in the second half of this year as NAND flash prices fall, followed by a DRAM price collapse. After the DRAM collapse the rest of the semiconductor market will undergo a downturn.
We’ve been calling for this downturn for some time. Dan Hutcheson at VLSI Research has been videotaping our forecast every December for the past Continue reading “Memory Market Falling, as Predicted”
On Saturday, June 18, Samsung’s Xian fab, the only facility in the world currently producing 3D NAND flash, suffered a power failure. How much of a problem is this?
The answer really depends upon who you ask. An article in the Financial Express quoted Samsung as saying that it would have a minimal impact, and that full-scale operations should resume in a few days. The article also said that Samsung estimated that the wafer loss would be below 10,000 wafers.
Assuming that the entire loss consisted of Samsung’s most advanced 48-layer 256Gb 3D NAND a 10,000-wafer loss would be less than 1% of total industry gigabyte shipments.
Korea Times quoted an anonymous fund manager who said: “The one-time incident will cost Samsung up to 20 billion won, which is very minimal. It won’t make heavy impact on Samsung’s chip business and the entire industry.”
According to Korean news source Chosenilbo the outage was caused by Continue reading “Samsung Power Glitch – Is It Important?”
For the past ten months DRAM prices have been undergoing a steady slide. Is the market in a crisis? Not really!
Today’s low spot price of $4.30/GB puts us on a par with February 2013, a full two years ago (see chart). DRAM makers have done a lot to reduce their production costs since that time, so their margins this quarter will be much better than they were in the first quarter of 2013.
But we are still a very long way from the bottom of the last market downturn. In late 2012 spot prices reached a low of $2.52/GB, a full 41% lower than today’s lowest spot prices.
The Memory Guy models the production costs of leading memory chips, and DRAM manufacturing costs have been decreasing for the past several years at an average annual rate of about 30%. That means that costs today are about half of what they were two years ago, and one third of their level this time in 2012.
So even though today’s Continue reading “DRAM Prices Down, But Not So Bad”
The following is excerpted from an Objective Analysis Alert sent to our clients on March 26: On March 25 SanDisk and Toshiba announced sampling of their 3D NAND flash technology, a 128Gb (gigabit) 48-layer second-generation product based on the BiCS technology that the companies pioneered in 2007. Pilot production will begin in the second half of 2015 with meaningful production targeted for 2016. This release was issued at the same time that Intel and Micron were briefing the press and analysts for their March 26 announcement of their own 3D NAND offering (pictured), which is currently sampling with select customers, and is to enter full production by year-end. The Micron-Intel chip is a 32-layer 256Gb device, which the companies proudly point out is the densest flash chip in the industry.
Similarities and Differences
These two joint ventures (Intel-Micron and SanDisk-Toshiba) are taking very different Continue reading “Four New Players Join 3D NAND Market”
This series has looked at 3D NAND technology in a good deal of technical depth. The last question to be answered centers around the players and the timing of the technology. A lot has been said about the technology and its necessity. Will everyone be making 3D NAND? When will this big transition occur?
This post will provide an update as of its publication (13 December 2013) to show each company’s current status, to the best of The Memory Guy’s understanding. Readers may want to refer back to the earlier posts in this series, as well as to a June 2013 Nikkei TechON article that gives a good review of the 3D NAND alternatives that have been presented at various technical conferences.
Let’s start with Samsung, the largest producer of NAND flash today. Just prior to Memcon 2013 last Continue reading “3D NAND: Who Will Make It and When?”
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?”
In August 2013 Samsung announced its V-NAND, the first production 3D NAND, kicking off a big change in the way that NAND flash will be manufactured. This new technology raises a number of important questions:
- What exactly is a 3D NAND?
- Why does the industry need to go to a 3D topology?
- How the heck do they make such a product?
To answer these questions I assembled a series of articles posted as weekly segments on The Memory Guy blog during the fourth quarter of 2013. The different sections are listed below, with hot links to each section.
Each of these is a topic that is complex enough to warrant its own post, so for the nine Fridays I published a post to explain each one in depth. I hope you find it engaging and informative.
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”
DRAM 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?”
SK Hynix and Spansion have announced a strategic NAND alliance under which Hynix will serve as a foundry for low-density SLC NAND chips made for Spansion using Hynix’ advanced processing nodes.
These products, aimed at the embedded market, should serve to strengthen Spansion in a market in which the company thrives. In fact, Spansion expressed this very well in their press release, citing: “Spansion’s recognized customer support and commitment for longevity of supply, which is highly valued in the embedded market, where Spansion has established relationships.”
The new chips will be manufactured in “4x, 3x, and 2xnm” process technologies.
The companies have also agreed to cross-license their patent portfolios.
You may be asking yourself: “What does Hynix Continue reading “Hynix and Spansion Join Forces”