As reported by DRAMeXchange, contract prices for NAND in February fell almost 14% over January. Market oversupply is still a problem with OEM clients submitting smaller and smaller orders and NAND manufacturers slowing their expansion projects. The 4Q13 numbers were released last month and we should expect demand to remain listless through 1H14. Pricing may also continue to decline as manufacturers and suppliers continue to compete and stay aggressive.
Everything from capacity expansions to verifying and approving 3D NAND technology has been pushed back as the industry switches gears to downplay this quarter’s less than favorable numbers. Some manufacturers have already opened new plants, but those locations are still in pre-production stages. Hynix is anticipated to return normal NAND output in Q2 following the fire that devastated their Wuxi Plant late last year. Micron is still in transitioning its Singapore plant from DRAM to NAND, but it should be completed also in Q2. With Q1 supply expected to grow by only 6%, everyone is looking for good news in Q2.
In an effort to help boost the mobile market, Sandisk recently announced its new iNAND Extreme eMMC chip. Available in capacities from 16GB to 64GB, write speeds up to 80 MB/s and read speeds up to 300 MB/s, this new chip is slotted for high performance smartphones and tablets. By utilizing smaller blocks, the iNAND Extreme performance increases and its random write performance rates higher than traditional eMMC chips.
There are several factors impacting the slow NAND market, but two of them are standing out right now: first, tablet, notebook and smartphone shipments have declined significantly in 1Q14; second, most mobile device manufacturers do not reveal their new products until the third quarter of the year which always puts a damper on NAND demand in the early quarters. Given these factors, we could be in for a slow ride over the next three months.