For more than a year The Memory Guy has been fielding questions about Micron’s QuantX products.
First announced at the 2016 Flash Memory Summit, this brand name has been assigned to Micron SSDs and DIMMs that use the Intel/Micron 3D XPoint Memory. Originally QuantX products were scheduled to ship in 2017, but Micron is currently projecting availability in 2019. My clients wonder why there have been these delays, and why Micron is not more actively marketing this product.
The simple answer is that it doesn’t make financial sense for Micron to ship these products at this time.
Within two weeks of the first announcement of 3D XPoint Memory, at the 2015 Flash Memory Summit, I knew and explained that the technology would take two years or more to reach manufacturing cost parity with DRAM, even though Intel and Micron loudly proclaimed that it was ten times denser than DRAM. This density advantage should eventually allow XPoint manufacturing costs to drop below DRAM costs, but any new technology, and even old technologies that are in low-volume production, suffer a decided scale disadvantage against DRAM, which sells close Continue reading “Where is Micron’s QuantX?”
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”
It came as a surprise to the Memory Guy on Monday to receive a press release from Micron indicating that Intel and Micron had decided to end their NAND flash partnership.
This agreement, which was begun in 2006, helped the two companies to aggressively ramp into the NAND flash market by combining their resources. NAND flash makers (as well as DRAM makers) need to make very substantial capital investments to participate in the market, and that’s not easy for a new entrant. Micron at that time was a very small NAND flash maker, and Intel wasn’t involved in the NAND flash market at all, so neither was in a position to succeed. By combining their resources the companies were able to become important contributors to the market.
The agreement initially appeared to be modeled after the very successful joint venture that Toshiba and SanDisk enjoyed. Each company would contribute half of the JV’s capital investment, and the same designs would be used to make both companies’ chips.
Over time Intel found itself in a familiar Continue reading “Micron and Intel to End NAND Flash JV”
Yesterday The Memory Guy learned of an amazing article in DigiTimes about a 3-6 week shutdown at Toshiba’s Yokkaichi NAND flash fab line. According to the story Toshiba’s production was shut down for 3-6 weeks accounting for a production loss of 100,000 wafers. Another article in PC Games N converted that to lost bytes and came up with the number 400,000 terabytes.
Some quick math shows the errors in both of these articles.
First of all, the wafer stoppage. The Toshiba/SanDisk Yokkaichi Joint Venture wafer fabrication complex processes a little over 2 million wafers per year. Divide that by 52 weeks and you find that’s about 40,000 wafers per week, so 100,000 wafers would be 2.5 weeks’ output, not 3-6 weeks.
The number of bytes that PC Games N published takes a little more math. According to TechInsights Toshiba’s 15nm 128Gb MLC chip has an area of 99mm². That gets you a little over 10TB/wafer. The company’s 48-layer TLC 256Gb part should produce about twice that. Yet, if you divide PC Games’ Continue reading “Did Toshiba REALLY Lose 3-6 Weeks’ Production?”
Yesterday’s news really underscored the race currently underway between 3D NAND makers to produce higher layer counts than one another.
Intel produced an announcement in which VP Rob Crooke bragged that: “Intel has delivered the world’s first commercially available 64-layer, TLC, 3D NAND solid state drive (SSD). While others have been talking about it, we have delivered.”
The announcement explained that the new Intel SSD 545s could be purchased at Newegg beginning that day.
The Memory Guy received Intel’s announcement at 10:02 AM Pacific Time. By 3:11 PM, five hours later, there was another announcement in my “In” box, this time from Western Digital (WDC).
WDC’s e-mail announced the development of the the SanDisk/Toshiba next-generation BiCS4 3D NAND technology, with 96 layers. The companies expect to begin to sample a 256Gb part to OEM customers in the second half of 2017 with production starting by the end of next year.
One has to wonder if WDC was Continue reading “3D NAND: “I Have More Layers than You Do!””