Market news for NAND has been slow through September and early October despite a solid finish in 2Q13. NAND manufacturers are nearing the limits of manufacturing through traditional technology and will be increasing production schedules on 3D manufacturing to increase the capacity in their products. According to a Flash Dynamics brief from iSuppli, it is estimated that over 65% of all NAND chips will be manufactured using 3-D technology by 2017. The same factors we hear about regularly, such as higher capacities and lower costs in tablets and smartphones, are the main driving force in the move to 3-D technology.
SanDisk is following suit in the advancement of NAND technology with the announcement of their new iNAND flash memory last month. This new 19nm memory is optimized for tablets that utilize Intel’s Bay Trail 22nm Atom processor. The new chips are available in capacities up to 128GB, in three different styles, and two different packages: embedded flash drive and multi-chip package (MCP). Through the help of their manufacturing partner, Toshiba, their faster iNAND model offers speeds up to 150MB/s.
Silicon Motion has also jumped into the advancement game with their new SM3267 controller chip. This new controller is slated to perform at up to 160MB/s read and 60MB/s write speeds, which is a 30-50% increase in performance compared to today’s USB 3.0 flash drives. It will be available in both a chip-on-board (COB) and a 48-pin quad-flat no-leads (QFN) green package and can support both triple-level (TLC) and multi-level (MLC) NAND chips.
Switching to solid state drives (SSDs), Western Digital has merged with Virident Systems, a manufacturer of server-side flash storage products. This new merger is just one of the many major steps that both Western Digital and Seagate have been taking to expand in the fast-growing SSD market. Virident focuses on enterprise SSDs and this market is expected to grow from $2.5 billion in 2012 to $7 billion in revenue by 2017 according to IDC.
It looks like manufacturers are taking advantage of a stalled NAND market and delegating some of their time on new NAND-based products. This is great news for the industry and these companies appear to be moving as quickly in R&D and production as their products will perform in their respective devices.