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Press Releases
TrendForce Reports Global NAND Flash Revenue from Branded Manufacturers Increased by 14.3% Sequentially in 3Q17 due to Growing Demand for Smartphone and Server

2017/11/20

Semiconductors

DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, reports a growing demand for NAND Flash under the influence of traditional peak season and increasing demand for smartphones and SSD from servers and data centers The gap between supply and demand is larger compared with the previous quarter However, the contract price of all product lines increased no more than 0-6% in this third quarter after a long period of continuous price increase, and the current price is approaching the highest level that OEM factories can afford As for Q4, the market demand is expected to increase slower except for smartphones’ surging demand In addition, the price is expected to remain the same or have only slight rise since 64/72-layer 3D-NAND devices have been put into mass production and applied to SSD product lines, gradually driving the market towards a balance between supply and demand NAND flash manufacturers are expected to maintain their high revenue in the fourth quarter as the prices are still high But the market is expected to turn to oversupply in 2018, as the 64/72-layer 3D-NAND development matures and brings an off-season in the first half of the year Samsung Samsung recorded a new high of operating profit margin, and the quarterly revenue increased by 195% to USD 562 billion due to considerable growth in bit shipments This is a result of server demand and smartphone manufacturers’ launch of new flagship models, as well as the strong demand for high-capacity applications From the perspective of production process and capacity, Samsung 64-layer NAND Flash has been applied to mobile devices and SSDs since its mass production in the third quarter Its application in products will continue to expand and the proportion of 3D-NAND in overall production is expected to exceed 50% by the end of this year It is worth noting that Samsung is reviewing the need for continued expansion of NAND Flash and production capacity distribution to DRAM; it is also considering relocation of some space to DRAM production on the second floor of its Pyeongtaek factory The relocation will likely result in undersupply in NAND Flash market, which is favorable for Samsung's future market strategy SK Hynix Driven by traditional peak season, launch of iPhone 8/X and demand for branded mobile phone in China, SK Hynix recorded a 16% increase of overall bit shipments in the third quarter Influence by the trend of capacity increase, however, the average selling price dropped slightly by 3% In this third quarter, the revenue of SK Hynix reached USD 15 billion, an increase of 154% compared with the previous quarter From the perspective of Hynix's future plan of production capacity, SK Hynix will continue to focus on the production expansion of 48/72 layer 3D-NAND, and will introduce mass production of 72-layer 3D-NAND in the fourth quarter as the main growth driver for 2018 Toshiba Toshiba's revenue recorded a substantial growth of 181% over the previous quarter, reaching USD 274 billion despite a slight decline in average selling price brought by changes in product allocation The remarkable growth is brought by surging demand for smartphones and the increasing SSD storage capacity Focusing on the supply to Apple’s new models, the Toshiba's bit shipments also increased significantly As for process technology, Toshiba continued its commitment to increasing production and yield rate after the official mass production of 64-layer 3D-NAND Flash in the third quarter By the end of 2017, the proportion of Toshiba's 3D-NAND in entire production will reach 30%, and is expected to exceed 50% by the end of 2018 Western Digital In Q3, Western Digital witnessed considerable growth in consumer devices under the influence of traditional peak season and continued undersupply in NAND Flash market On the other hand, its retail business benefited from the acquisition of SanDisk, with more product options available based on Western Digital’s original product lines However, the average selling price declined slightly due to the brand’s gradual shift of a product portfolio with high capacity As the result, the total revenue reached 252 billion USD, a quarterly increase of 89% In terms of process technology, Toshiba’s production of 64-layer 3D-NAND is maturing, and SSDs with this 64-layer 3D-NAND flash have been put into mass production in the third quarter before entering major OEMs for testing The 64-layer 3D-NAND is expected to be imported to mobile devices soon Micron Micron recorded a NAND Flash-related revenue of 184 billion USD, a quarterly increase of 77% due to the surging demand for SSD and mobile devices as well as an undersupply in the market Regarding process technology, Micron and IMF put more effort in 3D-NAND research and development At present, the output of 32-layer 3D-NAND is mature with a satisfying yield rate, while the 64-layer 3D-NAND has been put into mass production and is expected to improve the yield rate stably Intel Driven by continued demand for SSD from enterprises, Intel's third-quarter revenue reached 89 billion USD, a slightly quarterly growth of 2% With the configuration of the product remaining generally the same, the average selling price also kept unchanged while the bit shipments showed a slight growth The overall product line has been converted to 3D-NAND-centered Regarding Intel's future product plan, the development will still be SSD-centered with a proportion of over 90% Applications of 3D-XPoint are still in early stages, with a high price and small amount of users Whether the brand can get more OEM customers in the future still depends on the trend of price and Micron’s successful launch of related applications In terms of SSD for enterprises, PCIe interface is now becoming the mainstream as customers switch to Purley platform Intel took the lead to introduce 64-layer 3D-NAND to enterprise SSDs, and continued to secure its future revenue growth by signing long-term contracts with customers

Press Releases
TrendForce Maintains 4Q17 NAND Flash Market Outlook After Finding Toshiba’s Capacity Remains Largely Intact Despite Rumors

2017/10/17

Semiconductors

Despite lower-than-expected output caused by certain problems in production lines, Toshiba will be able to deliver its NAND Flash shipments as per the dates and volumes in its fourth-quarter contracts, says DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce After confirming with sources, DRAMeXchange refutes a report alleging that Toshiba’s monthly NAND Flash capacity has been reduced by nearly 100,000 wafers and some of its production lines have been suspended Alan Chen, senior research manager at DRAMeXchange, stated that Toshiba’s production trouble will not have a major effect on the overall NAND Flash supply and demand in the fourth quarter of 2017 and in the first quarter of 2018 As for the NAND Flash spot market, there is no module supplier suspending quotes or shipments after knowing this information This incident is expected to be resolved immediately with Toshiba quickly ramping up production to lower or fully compensate for the wafer deficit NAND Flash capacity to expand noticeably in the fourth quarter Chen noted that DRAMeXchange’s market outlook for this fourth quarter remains unchanged The supply gap in this period will be smaller than in the third quarter This also signals that the supply will eventually meet up to the demand, thus achieving market balance “Several factors are at work to make this happen,” said Chen “First, non-Samsung suppliers are gradually moving their 3D-NAND processes into the volume production stage Furthermore, the release of iPhone X encountered unexpected delays A part of Apple’s demand for iPhone storage components therefore has also been deferred to the first quarter of 2018 On the whole, the NAND Flash demand in the fourth quarter of this year will be lower than initially anticipated” Even with the slight decline in Toshiba’s output, overall supply on the market will still expand conspicuously in the fourth quarter from the third quarter of 2017 Furthermore, NAND Flash demand in the channel market has remained sluggish unless NAND Flash suppliers lower their prices and ensure that the supply is more stable In the first quarter of 2018, the NAND Flash demand may be sustained by the strong sales of the latest iPhone devices However, the markets for other end products will be affected by the seasonal headwinds From the supply side, the overall production capacity of 3D-NAND products will keep expanding as suppliers improve the yields of their respective processes Thus, supply will likely catch up to demand during the first half of 2018 and may even exceed it slightly Only the return of busy season in the second half of 2018 will again put strain on the supply

Press Releases
TrendForce Says NAND Flash Market to Regain Balance in 2018 with Annual Bit Supply Growing by 42.9%

2017/09/27

Semiconductors

Demand has exceeded supply in the global NAND Flash market for six consecutive quarters since the third quarter of 2016, according to the latest research from DRAMeXchange, division of TrendForce During this 2017, NAND Flash demand continues to expand because of the increase in average memory content of smartphones and the strong server market At the same time, the growth in NAND Flash supply has been constrained by the pace of the major suppliers’ respective technology migrations, which in general have been slower than anticipated On the other hand, DRAMeXchange’s NAND Flash market outlook indicates that supply and demand will reach a balance in 2018, moving away from the undersupply situation of 2017 In terms of annual changes in supply and demand for 2018, the global NAND Flash bit supply growth rate is currently projected at 429%, while the bit demand growth rate is projected at 377% “The progress bottleneck in the transition from the 2D-NAND to the 3D-NAND manufacturing for non-Samsung suppliers has been the main reason why the NAND Flash supply has been tight through 2017,” said Alan Chen, senior research manager of DRAMeXchange “Some losses of production capacity occurred as non-Samsung suppliers strive to improve their respective 3D-NAND production processes At the same time, suppliers have been unable to effectively utilize the additional capacity that they have taken on” Looking ahead, Chen pointed out that the non-Samsung suppliers are expected to reach maturity in the development of their respective 64-and 72-layer stacking technologies in 2018 Next year’s bit supply therefore is forecast to grow significantly by an annual rate of 429% As for the NAND Flash demand during 2018, the conventional seasonal effect in the next first quarter will cause shipments of end devices (eg smartphones, tablets and PCs) to drop sharply from the fourth quarter of 2017 As result, the NAND Flash market will temporarily swing from undersupply to oversupply Nonetheless, the overall market trend for the whole 2018 is toward a stable equilibrium of supply and demand 3D-NAND to represent over 70% of the global NAND Flash bit output for 2018; Samsung to retain its technology leadership With non-Samsung suppliers facing challenges in switching from 2D- to 3D-NAND Flash production, the share of 3D-NAND products in the global NAND Flash bit output for 2017 is estimated around 50% Next year, the major non-Samsung suppliers – SK Hynix, the Toshiba-Western Digital alliance and the Micron-Intel alliance – will further raise the share of their respective production capacities based on the 3D-NAND process Hence, the percentage of 3D-NAND products in the global NAND Flash bit output for 2018 will cross the 70% threshold In terms of suppliers’ respective technological developments, Samsung has begun mass producing 64-layer 3D-NAND Flash since this third quarter By this fourth quarter, the 3D-NAND process will represent more than 50% of Samsung’s total NAND Flash capacity Next year, this share figure may reach as high as 60% to 70% SK Hynix for now mainly uses the 48-layer stacking technology, but its 72-layer stacking will account for a larger share of its production capacity next year Around 20% to 30% of SK Hynix’s total NAND Flash production capacity will be based on the 3D-NAND process in the fourth quarter of 2017 This share figure is forecast to grow to 40% to 50% by the fourth quarter of 2018 Toshiba and its partner Western Digital were also mainly producing 48-layer 3D-NAND Flash during the first half of 2017 Around 30% of this alliance’s total NAND Flash production capacity will be based on the 3D-NAND process in the final quarter of this year Their 3D-NAND capacity share target is to surpass 50% by the fourth quarter of 2018 Toshiba started the construction of its Fab 6 this March, and the facility is scheduled to begin producing the latest 3D-NAND products in 2019 Fab 6, which is located in the Japanese city of Yokkaichi, is also a joint investment between Toshiba and Western Digital Toshiba’s decision to sell its memory business to the consortium led by Bain Capital has created a major rift in its relationship with Western Digital Therefore, when Fab 6 will be in operation is still uncertain Micron and Intel achieved economies of scale for their 32-layer 3D-NAND Flash process during the first half of 2017 and have quickly advanced to the 64-layer stacking technology this third quarter Currently, their 64-layer process has reached the yield rate required for mass production In this fourth quarter, the 3D-NAND process is expected to account for 40% to 50% of Micron and Intel’s total NAND Flash production capacity Going forward, Intel plans to expand its NAND Flash fab at Dalian, China The 3D-NAND capacity share of the Intel-Micron alliance is forecast to reach 60% to 70% in the fourth quarter of 2018

Press Releases
Toshiba Memory Corporation to Focus on Catching Up to Samsung in 3D-NAND Production Capacity Following Its Sale to U.S.-Japanese Consortium

2017/09/21

Semiconductors

Toshiba announced on September 20 that the company has agreed to sell its memory business, Toshiba Memory Corporation (TMC) to a US-Japanese consortium represented by US private equity firm Bain Capital for JPY 2 trillion (USD 18 billion) According to DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, the deal will start to have a notable impact on the NAND Flash market in the first half of 2018 as the negotiations took longer than expected From a medium- to long-term perspective, this deal will inject the necessary capital into TMC so that it can work to become a rival to Samsung in terms of NAND Flash technology and production capacity Alan Chen, senior research manager of DRAMeXchange, noted that several members of the acquiring party are government-backed investors and major private investment firms that are not deeply involved in the NAND Flash industry Generally speaking, this government-supported consortium is not expected to significantly alter the management and operation of TMC after the deal is completed “The participation of Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) and Bain Capital shows that TMC’s technologies have enormous strategic value,” said Chen “At the same time, major technology enterprises such as SK Hynix and Apple have also joined the consortium and provided part of the funding to move the deal forward, thus reflecting a jockeying of both global political and commercial interests” Chen added: “The infusion of capital from the new stakeholders in TMC will be like a shot of adrenaline Given that the total investment in a new NAND Flash fab (with a monthly capacity of 80,000~100,000 wafers) averages around US$8 billion, neither Toshiba nor Western Digital can alone shoulder the cost of capacity expansions and technology development, especially as they are facing against the industry leader Samsung” Samsung is still way ahead of the Toshiba-Western Digital alliance in 3D-NAND Flash capacity Just 10~15% of the total monthly NAND Flash capacity of the Toshiba-Western Digital alliance was based on the 3D-NAND process in the second quarter of 2017 During the same period, 3D-NAND comprised more than 40% of Samsung’s total monthly NAND Flash capacity Micron and Intel are strategic partners in the NAND Flash market, and they also began mass producing 3D-NAND Flash in the second half of 2016 The representation of 3D-NAND in the total monthly NAND Flash capacity of the Intel-Micron camp is projected to exceed 40% in the third quarter of 2017 Toshiba’s financial problem has been a major reason as to why the Toshiba-Western Digital alliance are behind their competitors in planning 3D-NAND capacity In terms of progress, the Toshiba-Western Digital alliance made the 48-layer stacking technology its mainstream 3D-NAND manufacturing process during the first half of 2017 By this fourth quarter, 3D-NAND is expected to represent around 30% of the alliance’s total monthly NAND Flash capacity With regard to capacity planning, the construction of TMC’s Fab 6 in Yokkaichi, Japan, began this March This facility is scheduled to mass produce the latest 3D-NAND products in 2019 Nonetheless, the future of Fab 6 is still uncertain because the sale of TMC has also led to disagreements between Toshiba and Western Digital regarding their collaboration The deal may lead to NAND Flash oversupply in the first half of 2018 As the bidding for the majority stake in TMC lasted longer than anticipated, the effect of this deal will become apparent later in the first half of 2018 “After the sale, TMC may be able to raise its 3D-NAND Flash capacity and yield rate to a level higher than initially expected,” said Chen “Plus, there is a significant degree of uncertainty in NAND Flash demand for the first half of 2018 Hence, the deal in the short term may actually cause supply-driven price decline in the NAND Flash market during the first half of 2018” The spun-off entity will manage its capital expenditure without interference from the former parent company and attain higher operational efficiency This deal, which also puts TMC outside of Toshiba’s ownership, will also create medium- to long-term changes on the NAND Flash industry The expenditure of this independently managed company will not be influenced by the financial problem of its former parent company, and it does not have to share resources with other group companies The spun-off NAND Flash maker therefore can totally concentrate on developing technologies and building up production capacity On the whole, the newly independent memory business is likely to achieve greater operational efficiency and become more proactive in making strategic decisions Though the winner of the bid for Toshiba’s memory business has been announced, the finalization of the deal will still need the consent of Western Digital Toshiba and Western Digital have jointly invested in the Yokkaichi Operations In terms of the ownership of the joint venture, Toshiba has around 55% of the share of the total investment versus Western Digital’s 45% How Toshiba and Western Digital resolve their issues and share the production capacity of the new Fab 6 will be crucial to the completion of the deal and TMC’s future development

Press Releases
TrendForce Says Global NAND Flash Revenue from Branded Manufacturers Grew by 8% Sequentially in 2Q17; NAND Flash Prices to Keep Rising in 3Q17

2017/08/21

Semiconductors

DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, reports that the NAND Flash market continued to experience tight supply in the second quarter As a result, contract prices of various lines of NAND Flash products rose by 3% to 10% from the first quarter despite the seasonal headwinds Going forward, NAND Flash suppliers are expected to post excellent revenue results in the third quarter due to small increases in contract prices of mobile products (ie eMMC and UFS) and SSDs On the whole, 2017 will be a bumper year for the industry “Facing the limitations in the shrinking of the manufacturing node for 2D-NAND Flash (or planar NAND Flash), suppliers have successively shifted to 3D-NAND Flash (or vertical NAND Flash) design and manufacturing technology,” said Alan Chen, senior research manager of DRAMeXchange “However, the industry has also experienced a substantial loss in production capacity during this transitional period This in turn resulted in tight supply and rising contract prices” Chen added: “We expect supply to be under strain for the rest of 2017 Relief will come later in 2018, when the manufacturing of 64- and 72-layer 3D-NAND Flash reaches maturity” Samsung Samsung’s second-quarter NAND Flash revenue rose by 116% from the prior quarter to reach US$47 billion Besides the general undersupply, Samsung benefited from its strong shipments of high-capacity enterprise-grade SSDs and its good balance of the overall product mix SK Hynix SK Hynix saw second-quarter NAND Flash bit shipments fell by 6% from the first quarter as the demand from Chinese smartphone brands was lower than expected However, the supplier’s profit margin remained high as the general undersupply and low inventory level led to an 8% sequential increase for the ASP of its NAND Flash products On the whole, SK Hynix’s second-quarter revenue slipped by just 07% from the prior quarter to US$13 billion Toshiba Toshiba’s investments to expand its 3D-NAND production capacity has been constrained by its cash flow problem For now, meeting Apple’s demand is the top priority of the company’s NAND Flash business, then followed by developing smartphone storage and SSD products Toshiba second-quarter inched up by 05% sequentially to US$232 billion The tight supply situation has given Toshiba leverage in price negotiation While the supplier’s bit shipments stayed flat, its profit margin was healthy Western Digital Western Digital’s revenue from retail sales of NAND Flash products has been the rise since the company completed the acquisition of SanDisk in 2016 Also, Western Digital in response to the relatively weaker demand in the PC-OEM market has shifted its focus to the mobile and retail storage markets In these two markets, the company has been able to generate greater revenue with better offerings that differentiate from those of the competitors Mobile and retail storage products already accounted for over 50% of Western Digital’s second-quarter NAND Flash revenue, which registered an 86% sequential gain and a massive 70% year-on-year increase The supplier furthermore posted remarkable growth for sales of enterprise-grade SSDs used in data centers and client-grade SSDs in the retail market Revenue from the enterprise-grade SSDs advanced by 7% year on year in the second quarter, while revenue from client-grade SSDs advanced by 14% Micron Likewise, Micron’s second-quarter NAND Flash revenue gained from the general undersupply and the rising demand for enterprise-grade SSDs Furthermore, the supplier has brought down the average bit cost for its products by expanding its 3D-NAND Flash output This in turn has raised the profit margin for the business Micron also enjoyed a sequential increase in its NAND Flash bit shipments for the second quarter Overall, the company’s NAND Flash revenue for the second quarter advanced by 208% compared with the first quarter to reach US$171 billion Intel Thanks to the strong demand for enterprise-grade SSDs, Intel’s second-quarter NAND Flash revenue rose slightly by 09% from the prior quarter to US$870 million The growth that Intel attained for this three-month period was more limited than the growths that the company posted in the prior quarters One factor behind this was Intel’s recent adjustment of its product mix that led to a slight decline in the overall NAND Flash ASP Nonetheless, Intel has maintained growth for its bit shipments and made 3D-NAND Flash the mainstay of product shipments Stock-up demand from smartphone clients will continue to put pressure on NAND Flash supply in the third quarter The arrival of the third quarter also signals the start of the traditional busy season Major electronic brands, especially those preparing to release their newest smartphones, are now stepping up their stock-up activities At the same time, shipments of enterprise-grade SSDs are anticipated to expand rapidly due to the strong demand from data centers Since NAND Flash prices continue to benefit from the persistent undersupply situation, suppliers will likely to keep producing impressive revenue and profit results this third quarter

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