NAND’s Future Replacement Continues to RAMp Up
As we have discussed before, the current mainstream design for NAND flash memory faces difficulties as the transistors, used in construction, shrink below 20 nanometers (nm). When the chip density increases, cells can leak bits of data and cause errors in that data. Two emerging technologies, designed to possibly replace NAND one day, have been in the works for some time now. One of those technologies is magnetoresistive random-access memory (MRAM). MRAM stores data in each memory cell through a magnetic charge, combining the cache features of dynamic random-access memory DRAM with the non-volatile storage power of NAND. The independent manufacturer Everspin out of Chandler, Arizona has been leading the MRAM game and announced a partnership with GlobalFoundries, an investment company and the world’s second largest semi foundry, out of Abu Dhabi, to broaden their product line with smaller nm processes and capacity to increases up to 1Gb. There are many advantages of MRAM over NAND, most of which are centered on speed and power consumption and would give system builders other options for unique designs.
The other developing technology is resistive RAM, or RRAM. This type of memory is much denser than NAND while offering better performance through a wafer size that is half that of NAND. Instead of the standard Charge Trap Flash (CTF) process that uses transistors to store data bits, RRAM interconnects conductive filaments to store the data. To overcome electron leakage issues, Crossbar, a start-up in Silicon Valley and an industry leader in RRAM, issues a voltage range for each cell, and any cells outside of the range from -1 to +1 can store new data. To go even one step further, the company is on the cusp of entering the 3D storage market by incorporating 3D technology into its RRAM lines. This technology is much cheaper than die shrinking, so a stackable chip that is already much smaller than the current memory type is a huge step forward.
Despite all of the changing news in the NAND sector, one thing remains constant: we should expect big things in 2015 on this side of the memory market. With the total production value of electronic systems expected to grow to US$1.82 trillion by 2018, the 5.2% growth rate over last year will be heavily influenced by the ever-growing popularity of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. What do almost all of those devices have in common? They depend on NAND flash as their main storage medium. Because of this relationship, we should expect to see a continued growth in NAND and increase in competition from manufacturers in the next calendar year.
Seeing Some Black for LCD TVs as 2014 Closes
It's been a good while since we offered some comments on the panel market, and particularly for TVs. There's been quite an extended period of not much positive news until the second half of 2014. It was just before the US Thanksgiving holidays when DisplaySearch released their latest report indicating (unexpected) growth in the TV panel market.
Read more: Seeing Some Black for LCD TVs as 2014 Closes
IoT Hardware Growth to Gain in 2015+
Everyone is (understandably) excited by the promises of the Internet of Things (IoT). After all, to be honest, I've got end-devices that are definitely in the IoT realm on my holiday shopping lists, I'm betting you do too. The consumer moment aside though, there are real supply chain reasons for IoT excitement. The increased semiconductor and electronics penetration is always welcomed news, but while the forecast for growth for the IT side of IoT is lengthy, the hardware boom may only have a few years' runway.
Read more: IoT Hardware Growth to Gain in 2015+
We'd Like to Include You: Smith's (simplified) Global Supply Chain Survey is open
Heading into the second half of December, the holiday season is underway and we are all looking to close out another year. This year was a special one for Smith, we celebrated our 30th anniversary and we expanded our facilities. We look forward to even more growth in 2015. But now, as the year closes and the industry and financial news quiet, we'd like to hear from you and focus on your perspectives through Smith's annual Global Supply Chain Survey.
Read more: We'd Like to Include You: Smith's (simplified) Global Supply Chain Survey is open
Semiconductor Growth Outpacing Economies
Since the global economic recession and the early years of the last decade, analysts in the semiconductor and electronics market (myself included) have argued that industry cycles directly relate to economic cycles. The semiconductor and electronics industries are generally seen as dependent on consumer confidence and general financial stability. But then there's now and global semi sales are showing significant strength – great news for us, but how do we understand the disconnects with the global economic outlooks?
Read more: Semiconductor Growth Outpacing Economies
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