Every 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 reconcile their numbers against WSTS, so they follow suit.
Some folks believe that SanDisk’s shipments are already reported by Toshiba, but that’s not the case. Since Toshiba acts as a foundry for SanDisk, then Toshiba doesn’t report the SanDisk production in their revenues or unit shipments, the same way that TSMC doesn’t show up in any semiconductor market share figures. Verify this with Toshiba every few years and the company reconfirms it every time.
In essence, a substantial part of the NAND market goes unreported in market share rankings. If SanDisk buys chips on the open market that’s reported. If the company satisfies its needs through Toshiba it’s unreported. So the market could go into an undersupply or an oversupply based on Toshiba’s shipments to SanDisk but this is not captured through this approach.
Some analysts resolve this by creating a new market share perspective they call “Manufacturing Power.” This measure counts wafers out rather than individual chip shipments and is the only approach that allows major foundries like TSMC and UMC to prove their strength. From the perspective of Manufacturing Power fabless companies like Qualcomm and nVidia don’t show up at all.
Although Objective Analysis doesn’t regularly publish market share figures (as so many others do) we do include them in the report Understanding the NAND Market which can be purchased for immediate download from our website.