Thursday, August 30th 2018

Intel-Micron QLC NAND Yields Less Than 50%, a Prelude to Global SSD Price Hikes?

IMFlash Technologies (IMFT), the Intel-Micron joint venture that manufactures NAND flash and 3D Xpoint memory for use in Intel and Micron end-user products, and Micron Technology-branded NAND flash supply to other SSD manufacturers, is facing a big hurdle with its QLC NAND flash manufacturing ramp-up, which if not checked, could influence SSD prices globally. The company is apparently seeing dangerously low yields of less than 50 percent for its 3D QLC NAND flash memory. This effectively makes its QLC NAND pricier (in terms of $/GB) than current-generation 3D TLC NAND.

The first victim of low yields of 3D QLC NAND flash is Intel's SSD 660p series, a mainstream NVMe SSD that brought 1 TB of storage under the $200-mark. Sources within IMFT tell Tweaktown that the company is seeing 48% yields in its 64-layer QLC NAND flash wafers (i.e. 52% of the wafer is unfit for further production). In contrast, 64-layer 3D TLC yields are above 90% (margin/incomplete dies are excluded from these figures). What's worse, the source predicts that the conditions may never get better with this generation.
Source: Tweaktown
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49 Comments on Intel-Micron QLC NAND Yields Less Than 50%, a Prelude to Global SSD Price Hikes?

#1
Prima.Vera
Low yields......suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure.
Perfect excuse for the NAND Cartels.
Next is Samsung with "Due to rat/bug/etc infestation, the NAND yields are 50% lower than expected. Let's jack up the prices too!"
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#2
TheOne
Lets hope Samsung has better luck and can achieve their goal of flooding the market with drives.
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#3
R0H1T
a Prelude to Global SSD Price Hikes?
No unless Sammy, Sk Hynix, Toshiba, Seagate(?) also have horrible yields, this sounds like an Intel/IMFT thing.
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#4
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
"R0H1T said:
No unless Sammy, Sk Hynix, Toshiba, Seagate(?) also have horrible yields, this sounds like an Intel/IMFT thing.
IMFT holds about 1/5th of the global NAND supply (sauce).

It can influence SSD prices, given that other major suppliers such as SK Hynix and SanDisk supply NAND to smartphone/tablet makers way more than SSD, whereas Micron/IMFT chips mostly make it to finished SSDs.
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#5
TheGuruStud
Slow clap for intel. They sure are firing on all 2 cylinders.
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#6
Vya Domus
Good thing I already picked up a 500GB 860.
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#7
R0H1T
"btarunr said:
IMFT holds about 1/5th of the global NAND supply (sauce).

It can influence SSD prices, given that other major suppliers such as SK Hynix and SanDisk supply NAND to smartphone/tablet makers way more than SSD, whereas Micron/IMFT chips mostly make it to finished SSDs.
How much of it is consumer vs enterprise space though? Samsung for instance is the undisputed leader in the consumer space, SK Hynix supplies flash to even Intel desktop class SSD, among others like Kingston/ADATA/Mushkin/corsair et al.

I don't agree that IMFT's woes will spill over to the consumer space, not when QLC is about to go mainstream, in about a year or two, unless there's collusion.
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#8
RejZoR
Is it our fault that they have low yields? Get them better and stop whining lol. Why should consumers bear the costs of their inability to produce products at certain quality levels?
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#10
TheLostSwede
Absurd headline. The aren't even a handful of QLC drives in the market yet, but this is somehow supposed to affect SSD prices? I think not.
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#11
Prima.Vera
"TheLostSwede said:
Absurd headline. The aren't even a handful of QLC drives in the market yet, but this is somehow supposed to affect SSD prices? I think not.
QLCs are the best new thing for SSD market...
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#12
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
"R0H1T said:
How much of it is consumer vs enterprise space though? Samsung for instance is the undisputed leader in the consumer space, SK Hynix supplies flash to even Intel desktop class SSD, among others like Kingston/ADATA/Mushkin/corsair et al.

I don't agree that IMFT's woes will spill over to the consumer space, not when QLC is about to go mainstream, in about a year or two, unless there's collusion.
It's pointless segregating client/enterprise SSD. There are two main consumers for NAND, one is storage chips inside smartphones; and other is SSD, memory cards, USB drives, etc.

Smartphone industry's consumption of NAND must eclipse SSD by a factor of 100.
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#13
kastriot
Who cares really, we have classic HDD-s so in the end nand chip makers will lost money if they become too greedy.
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#14
R0H1T
"btarunr said:
It's pointless segregating client/enterprise SSD. There are two main consumers for NAND, one is storage chips inside smartphones; and other is SSD, memory cards, USB drives, etc.

Smartphone industry's consumption of NAND must eclipse SSD by a factor of 100.
It's not, the enterprise market is much more resistant to price increases also they have long term contracts, not to mention that enterprises often times pay or are willing to pay a premium for certain products. Now the consumer market is highly price sensitive, so to assume that QLC "shortage" will result in the price increase for the rest of the market is ludicrous to say the least. MLC &TLC based drives still dominate either group, however no way can any of these other vendors just hike prices (TLC or MLC) of their products because IMFT's QLC hit a snag.
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#15
erixx
the need for speed.... and then the gravel traps... oh yeah
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#16
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
"RejZoR said:
Is it our fault that they have low yields? Get them better and stop whining lol. Why should consumers bear the costs of their inability to produce products at certain quality levels?
That's not how it works in any industry.
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#17
RejZoR
"Frick said:
That's not how it works in any industry.
Yes it does. You can't crank up MLC prices because your QLC process is shit. If QLC devices are more expensive because of it, whatever. But if you jack up prices of MLC or TLC because of it, then you can kindly fuck off as a vendor. Especially if that becomes a thing just globally across entire market for all vendors because one can't make them properly.
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#18
TheGuruStud
"RejZoR said:
Yes it does. You can't crank up MLC prices because your QLC process is shit. If QLC devices are more expensive because of it, whatever. But if you jack up prices of MLC or TLC because of it, then you can kindly fuck off as a vendor. Especially if that becomes a thing just globally across entire market for all vendors because one can't make them properly.
Any ol excuse will do. I can't wait for another minimal natural disaster to spike prices for 2 yrs.
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#20
Axaion
Depends if they want to collaborate and price fix, like they did with RAM some years ago..

if QLC really had that low yields for everyone, surely TLC would actually be cheaper to produce for them aswell - shouldent effect TLC drives cost.

Shouldent..
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#21
TheLostSwede
"Frick said:
That's not how it works in any industry.
So if it's a bad corn harvest, farmers should charge more for wheat? I don't think that's how the real world works...
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#22
RejZoR
"TheLostSwede said:
So if it's a bad corn harvest, farmers should charge more for wheat? I don't think that's how the real world works...
They may, but then no one will buy it. It's not much different with NAND. But they want to apply the logic of "corn harvest was bad, so we need to jack up the prices of beans and potatoes as well to level things out for us". No wonder ppl hate them lol
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#23
stimpy88
Maybe a little more creative than a fire in the FAB... Maybe

I guess it's SK Hynix or Samsung's turn to host the BBQ this year.
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#24
TheLostSwede
"RejZoR said:
They may, but then no one will buy it. It's not much different with NAND. But they want to apply the logic of "corn harvest was bad, so we need to jack up the prices of beans and potatoes as well to level things out for us". No wonder ppl hate them lol
That was sort of my point.
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#25
nemesis.ie
"TheGuruStud said:
Slow clap for intel. They sure are firing on all 2 cylinders.
Bad analogy, both my bikes run very nicely on 2 cylinders thanks (they only have two (each)). :)
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