NAND Flash


[News] Module Makers Prepay to Secure NAND Flash Amidst Supply Squeeze and Price Surge

After several quarters of inventory depletion, the NAND market is gradually heating up, and there are concerns of a tighten supply in 2024. During an Investor Meeting held on the 7th, Phison Electronics Corporation, a supplier of NAND flash memory controllers and modules, announced that due to capacity limitations in NAND flash production, NAND supply has become constrained. When entering 4Q23, the company is already facing tighten supply for some of its products. Consequently, Phison plans to prepay its NAND flash suppliers to ensure a stable supply, as reported by CTEE.

Phison noted that its suppliers have been reducing production since the 4Q22, and it has accelerated since the 2Q23. Following three to four quarters of inventory depletion, the NAND market is gradually recovering, leading to a stabilization in NAND prices.

In fact, the strategy of module manufacturers is influenced by NAND flash suppliers. For instance, Samsung has been actively raising NAND prices. After the company initially raised NAND prices by 10% to 20% this quarter, it has decided to continue increasing prices by quarter in 2024. This strategic decision reflects Samsung’s determination to stabilize NAND prices with the aim of reversing the market’s direction in the first half of the upcoming year.

Notably, NAND chips and DRAM account for roughly half of Samsung’s memory chip sales. Simultaneously, while raising prices, Samsung continues to decrease production to control market supply, which, in turn, improves market stability and profitability.

TrendForce previously indicated that with NAND wafer prices leading the increase since August and suppliers adopting a firmer stance in negotiations, Q4 enterprise SSD contract prices are projected to rise by approximately 5~10%. On the client SSD front, as suppliers gain more bargaining power, both high-end and low-end products are expected to increase concurrently, with 4Q23 PC client SSD contract prices projected to rise by 8~13%.

TrendForce’s NAND Flash price analysis released today also highlighted that due to continuous shortages in recent wafer supply, the market has been experiencing rising prices under a shrinking volume. While spot quotations for NAND Flash packaged dies have been oscillating narrowly in quotations on account of the persistently constrained level of visibility in demand.
(Image: Samsung)


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[News] China’s Big Fund Drive Changxin Xinqiao towards 3-Year Memory Chip Mass Production

Following China’s Big Fund’s substantial $14.56 billion RMB investment in Changxin Xinqiao Storage Technology, a memory chip manufacturer, at the end of October, there are now reports of an additional $39 billion RMB injection.

China is actively building a domestic semiconductor supply chain, and according to Nikkei Asia, Changxin Xinqiao is set to utilize this funding to expedite the construction of its facility in Hefei, Anhui province, with the aim of achieving mass production within a span of three years.

Hefei is also the location of a production facility for ChangXin Memory Technologies (CXMT), a major semiconductor manufacturer specializing in DRAM production. Changxin Xinqiao shares some shareholders and its general manager with CXMT, according to Tianyancha.

Chinese media points out that Changxin Xinqiao has ambitious plans to produce DRAM chips in Hefei, destined for use in computers and a wide array of electronic devices. At present, Changxin Xinqiao has initiated the tendering process for new facility equipment and is poised to accelerate procurement and related procedures using the recently acquired funding.

With support from the Hefei City government, Changxin Xinqiao initiated the DRAM factory construction project in 2019 and laid out a policy to make use of domestically manufactured semiconductor production equipment.

(Image: CXMT)

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[News] Samsung’s Announcement of a 20% Quarterly Price Increase for NAND Signals Promising Industry Trends

As reported by UDN News, Samsung Electronics is making a significant move by increasing the prices of NAND Flash memory by 20% every quarter until the second quarter of 2024. This price surge exceeds industry expectations.

Within the semiconductor industry, Samsung initially raised NAND wafer prices by 10% to 20% this quarter, Pulse reported. Now, the company has decided to continue this trend by progressively increasing prices by 20% during the first and second quarters of the next year. This strategic decision reflects Samsung’s determination to stabilize NAND wafer prices with the aim of reversing the market’s direction in the first half of the upcoming year.

Based on TrendForce’s research in October, with NAND wafer prices leading the increase since August and suppliers adopting a firmer stance in negotiations, Q4 enterprise SSD contract prices are projected to rise by approximately 5~10%. Meanwhile, reduced production of mainstream processes and fewer suppliers for high-end client SSDs have endowed suppliers with better bargaining power. Consequently, both high-end and low-end products are expected to increase concurrently, with 4Q23 PC client SSD contract prices projected to rise by 8~13%.

TrendForce also reports that Q4 contract prices for mobile DRAM are poised to see an increased quarterly rise of 13–18%. But that’s not all—NAND Flash is also joining the party, with contract prices of eMMC and UFS expected to climb by approximately 10–15% in the same quarter. This quarter is set to star mobile DRAM, traditionally the underperformer in profit margins compared to its DRAM counterparts, as it takes the lead in this round of price increases.

TrendForce foresees that memory prices are expected to continue trending upward in 1Q24. The rate of increase will depend on whether suppliers maintain a conservative production strategy and whether there is enough consumer demand to bolster the market.

Samsung’s Strategy on NAND Affect the Market and Company Performance

Following the latest financial report, NAND is a staple memory chip alongside DRAM, and together they account for around half of Samsung Electronics’ memory chip sales. In conjunction with the aggressive price hikes, Samsung is also curbing production to manage market supply effectively, promoting a positive market environment, and enhancing profitability.

At a recent financial conference on October 31st, Kim Jae-jun, Vice President of Samsung Eletronics, publicly stated, “There will be selective production adjustments to normalize inventories in a short time. A supply cut will be larger for NAND flash than for DRAM.”

Financial analysts estimate that as memory production cuts take effect and prices rise, Samsung’s operations will see a significant improvement starting from the fourth quarter of this year.

NAND Industry Foresee Bright Future amid Memory Price Surge

NAND-related businesses in Taiwan are also optimistic about the industry’s future. Khein Seng Pua, CEO of Phison Electronics Corp, indicated that the adjustment of OEM customer inventories, spanning the past six to nine months, is nearly complete. Consequently, Phison has secured more design-in projects, resulting in a gradual increase in wafer demand. Furthermore, Phison’s controller IC products have advanced into a new process generation, leading to a rise in value-added custom development projects.

Simon Chen, Chairman and CEO of ADATA, anticipates a prolonged period of rising memory prices, starting from the fourth quarter of this year and continuing into the first half of the next year. This is expected to create a two-year era of prosperity in the memory market, with supply shortages predicted in the coming years.

Industry experts highlight the reinvigoration of the NAND wafer market, with customers progressively returning. Samsung, being the global memory chip leader, is spearheading the price hikes, thereby contributing to a favorable pricing trend across the overall market.
(Image: Samsung)

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[Insights] NAND Spot Prices Hold Steady After Hitting $2 Mark, Upward Trend is Subject to Debate

DRAM Spot Market
Major module houses are still holding a fairly high level of inventory, so they are less adhered to the consensus that prices will go up. Currently, their main strategy in the spot market is to have their quotes closely aligned with the quotes in the contract market. Therefore, spot prices are not expected to change significantly before contract prices rise further in November. Even though the overall volume of spot trading remains low, the average prices of items are not fluctuating noticeably. For the mainstream chips (i.e., DDR4 1Gx8 2666MT/s), their average spot rose by 1.46% from US$1.577 last week to US$1.600 this week.

NAND Flash Spot Market

Spot transactions have been ramping up since September under the active inclination of price follow-ups among buyers, though spot prices have slightly mitigated in growth over the past two weeks after arriving at US$2, where some products are seeing a diminishing level of transactions due to the high markup. The continuity of price hikes will require further observations. 512Gb TLC wafer spots have risen by 12.72% this week, arriving at US$2.304.


[News] Western Digital’s Impressive Results Raise Hopes for Memory Market Revival

On October 30th, major memory manufacturer Western Digital unveiled its financial results for the first quarter of 2024. During this quarter, the company achieved revenue of $2.75 billion, marking a 3% increase compared to the previous quarter but a 26% decrease compared to the same period last year.

The Potential for Sustained Growth in the Cloud Market

Taking a closer look at end-market dynamics in this quarter, flash memory prices continued to decline, but a surge in product shipments drove quarterly growth in specific business segments.

Western Digital’s cloud business revenue was $872 million, accounting for 32% of total revenue, with a 12% quarterly decrease and a significant 52% annual drop. On client revenue, revenue reached $1.147 billion, comprising 42% of total revenue, showing an 11% quarterly growth but a 7% annual decrease. Consumer revenue stood at $731 million, constituting 26% of total revenue, with a 14% quarterly increase and an 8% annual increase.

Looking forward, Western Digital expects its Q2F24 to range from $2.85 billion to $3.05 billion.

Western Digital’s CEO, David Goeckeler, credited the Q1F24 to the team’s dedication. He said, “Our ability to develop differentiated and innovative products across a broad range of end markets has resulted in sequential margin improvement across both flash and HDD businesses.”

Goeckeler also noted that consumer and client markets continue to perform well, and the cloud market is expected to sustain growth. As market conditions improve, Western Digital’s refined cost structure empowers the company to leverage enhanced profitability.

Data from TrendForce, as of September 12th, places Western Digital fourth in the global NAND Flash market for Q2 2023, with a market share of 14.7%. This positions the company closely behind industry giants like Samsung Electronics, Kioxia, and SK Group.

Regarding the merger with Kioxia, media reports suggest that Western Digital, following stalled negotiations, plans to divest its flash memory business, accompanied by a new round of financing to address part of its debt. This strategic separation allows the company to maintain its traditional hard drive business and create two distinct publicly traded entities.

Goeckeler also explained, “However, given current constraints, it has become clearer to the board in recent weeks that delivering a stand-alone separation is the right next step in the evolution of Western Digital.”

Is the Storage Industry Poised for a Revival?

The storage industry has been facing a period of stagnation due to economic challenges and sluggish demand in the consumer electronics sector. Major players in the storage market, including Western Digital, Micron, Samsung, and Kioxia, have been compelled to reduce production and investments to address the issue of oversupply.

However, recent reports indicate that memory chip prices are set to experience a significant upturn in the fourth quarter of the challenging year 2023. Experts suggest that the industry is gradually moving towards a phase of growth.

In terms of pricing, TrendForce forecasts a general price increase in both DRAM and NAND Flash products, starting in the Q4. For DRAM, a seasonal price increase of approximately 3-8% is expected. The sustainability of this upward trend will depend on suppliers’ commitment to production reduction strategies and the extent of demand recovery, particularly in the general server domain.

As for NAND Flash, TrendForce anticipates a comprehensive price increase of around 8-13% in the fourth quarter. Looking forward to 2024, the continuation of this upward trend for NAND Flash may face challenges unless original manufacturers maintain production reduction strategies and demand for Enterprise SSDs in the server domain experiences a revival.
(Image: Western Digital)


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