Minor disruptions seen for NAND Flash

mercredi 23 mars 2011

SAN JOSE, Calif. - What is the current state of the NAND flash supply chain following the earthquake in Japan ?

’’We believe possible supply chain disruption could mildly exacerbate NAND under-supply in the next 1-2 quarters as supply/demand balance is likely pushed-out,’’ said analyst Doug Freedman of Gleacher & Co., in a report.

’’Specific to SanDisk, impact to operations is likely inconsequential as Toshiba had little disruption to Fab 3/4’’ in Japan, he said. Toshiba Corp. and SanDisk Corp. have a joint NAND fab venture in Japan.

The joint venture fabs are ’’averting rolling blackouts (as a result of being supplied on the Western power grid verses the impacted Eastern, i.e., Fukushima Dai-ichi plant), and will have sufficient allocation as a result of stock and contingency plans,’’ he said.

NAND prices remain in flux. ’’As a result of some supply disruption to the NAND market, we expect spot pricing trends to run above normalized seasonal patterns through possibly Q3,’’ he said. ’’While NAND spot pricing has benefited in recent days, we do not believe the current environment will cause NAND suppliers to adjust contract pricing to OEMs.’’

Worldwide NAND revenue is expected to grow from $20 billion in 2010 to $46 billion in 2014, representing a 23 percent CAGR, according to the firm. The strongest growth will stem from smartphones, tablets and SSDs into PCs, it said.

In all, NAND will be in an under-supply mode. ’’By our estimates, we see 300-mm wafer starts in 2011 growing to 995,000 wafers/month from 832,000 wafers/month,’’ he said. ’’In 2012 we see starts increasing 22 percent to 1.210 billion, with Line-16 from Samsung the biggest wildcard (capable of 200,000/month), and Fab 5 (from Toshiba) to a lesser extent. During 2012, we expect bit/wafer rate to slow as X3 becomes more ubiquitous.’’

As a result, ’’its our view that supply/demand balance may not fully restore until 2013, as secular growth drivers and pockets of tightness (i.e., Japan) result in slight under-supply throughout 2012,’’ he added.

Others had a slightly different view. ’’Panic set in last week—as it usually does after big disasters—amid dire predictions from the media and industry analysts about potential disruptions in the electronics food chain’’ due to the earthquake, according to VLSI Research Inc. in a report.

’’While the situation in Japan remains critical, many of these fears appear overblown and the market is finally making a note of it,’’ according to the report. ’’Spot prices cooled off significantly at the end of the week after jumping by double-digits early on. Today spot prices for both DRAM and NAND flash are trending down.’’

The overall spot price-per-bit for NAND jumped for the second consecutive week, this time by 7.8 percent. ’’High-density NAND was also hot with spot prices for 16Gb soaring by 17 percent and those for 64Gb increasing 11 percent,’’ according to VLSI.

’’DRAM spot prices rose across the board, breaking a string of four consecutive weeks of declines. The overall spot price-per-bit for DRAM jumped 4.3 percent. Spot prices for mainstream 1Gb DDR3 jumped by as much as 12 percent, while those for 2Gb were up nearly 4 percent. Legacy parts made also impressive gains on fears of supply availability. Spot prices for DDR2 increased 3 percent, while those for DDR jumped 4 percent,’’ according to the firm.

by Mark LaPedus - EE Times