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NAND Flash Industry to Grow More than 10% in 2015: TrendForce

DRAMeXchange, TrendForce’s research division, said that the shrinking NAND Flash production costs resulting from the NAND Flash industry’s improving technology are expected to boost demands for various end products, including SSDs and eMMCs.

“NAND Flash industry value is expected to rise consistently in 2015, reaching as high as US$27.6 billion on annual growth of 12%,” DRAMeXchange said in a press release.

Sean Yang (楊文得), assistant vice president of DRAMeXchange, said he would believe that the NAND Flash market will thrive mostly during the second half of 2015 rather than during the first half based on the tendency for new hardware devices to be released in the third and fourth quarters of each year and the likelihood of demands being restrained in the first two quarters.

He said that the increased NAND Flash demands in both the third and the fourth quarters are expected to benefit the NAND Flash industry tremendously by easing any potential oversupply that occurs in the two preceding quarters and allowing the market to reach a potential balance.

“By the end of 2015, the NAND Flash industry has a good chance of remaining healthy, while the growth is expected to continue,” he said.

DRAMeXchange said in the press release that it will be a critical period for NAND Flash manufacturers next year, as they try to slow capacity expansion. For next year, however, wafer volumes are expected to only rise 8% on year. The keys for the supply side will be placed on the 15/16nm manufacturing processes intended for Planar NAND products, 3D NAND Flash technology, and TLC-based applications.

Meanwhile, Numerous 1ynm eMMC/eMCP and SSD products have already found their way into first-tier smartphones and tablets during the third and fourth quarters of this year. Although Samsung and Toshiba both began to produce 15/16nm products in limited quantities from the end of the third quarter, neither plans to start mass production immediately, as the yield rates for the 15/16nm components tend to take longer to improve compared to those produced on the 1ynm manufacturing process, DRAMeXchange said.

As a result of their yield rate being limited, components made on the 15/16nm processes will not be applied in any embedded products until after the second quarter of next year. In an attempt to counter the difficulties involved in manufacturing Planar NAND products, some manufacturers turned their attention towards developing 3D NAND Flash, which is one of the industry’s other emerging technologies.

Yang said that Samsung has produced 3D NAND Flash products geared towards Enterprise SSDs since the fourth quarter of last year, and is currently looking to release 3D NAND Flash products that will be applicable to Client-based SSDs. In a recent investor’s meeting, Intel also discussed the 3D NAND Flash SSDs that it plans to release with Micron, and confirmed that the SSDs’ trial production is already underway.

The two companies’ official 3D NAND Flash SSDs are currently slated for a release in the second half of 2015.

“Looking ahead to next year, I believe that the progresses made by the early 3D NAND Flash adopters will lead to a series of similar developments from manufacturers who have yet to announce their plans with the technology,” Yang said. “Considering the time needed to improve a 3D NAND Flash product’s cost and performance, their adoption will unlikely become significant until the fourth quarter of next year or the first quarter of 2016.”