Last month we reviewed NAND flash memory numbers for 1Q14 which showed a decrease in sales resulting from a normally slow part of the year. Mobile devices contributed the most to the shrinkage in this dull season and as a result, NAND selling prices also decreased. So what do we expect to see in 1H14? With the expected release of the newest Apple iPhone and other Chinese smartphones in the Fall, combined with new SSDs from all of the manufacturers, it is predicted that NAND prices will increase as supply tightens due to the new builds. To further support this forecast, NAND manufacturers have no plans to increase capacity, aside from Samsung’s Xian plant which opened in May.
Most new smartphones from the big manufacturers should be released in 3Q14. These companies have been warehousing material since June, taking supply out of the open market and that will result in heightened NAND pricing. There has also been increased competition from Chinese builders in the smartphone market. We are already seeing the impact on Apple and Samsung’s growth as these manufacturers are capitalizing on new features and designs and appealing pricing. Their high-end, low-cost strategy is making good headway with noticeable effects in the supply chain.
In January, we discussed future technology and the impact it might have on NAND flash. One of these new technologies is magnetoresistive random access memory, or MRAM. By completing data storage in each memory cell via a magnetic charge, MRAM combines the cache capabilities of DRAM with the non-volatile storage power of NAND, resulting in a chip that can pull up your computing session even after the machine has been restarted or powered down completely. When compared to NAND flash, MRAM has a faster write performance, lower power consumption and high durability. However, DRAM and NAND do not seem to be going anywhere soon, so MRAM, with its low density configurations, faces a long road to adoption. Right now, its best application is in the in industrial market but is expected to make the biggest impact in enterprise storage where it can help use RAID system users from power loss.