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Intel Again Leader in Silicon Supply Race

Intel was the historic leader in silicon manufacturing and sales from 1993 through 2016, the year it lost its lead to Samsung. The issue wasn't so much to do with Intel, but more to do with market demands at the time - if you'll remember, it was the time of booming DRAM pricing alongside the smartphone demand increase that propagated stiff competition and manufacturers trying to outgun one another in the form of specs. The DRAM demand - and its ridiculous prices, at the time - propelled Samsung towards the top spot in terms of revenue, leaving Intel in the dust.

However, with the decrease in DRAM pricing following the reduce in smartphone demand and increased manufacturing capabilities of semiconductor manufacturers, which flooded the market with product that is being more slowly digested, has led to the drop of the previously-inflated Dram pricing, thus hitting Samsung's revenues enough for Intel to again become "top dog" in the silicon manufacturing world - even as the company struggles with its 10 nm rollout and faced supply issues of their own. As IC Insights puts it, "Intel replaced Samsung as the number one quarterly semiconductor supplier in 4Q18 after losing the lead spot to Samsung in 2Q17. (...) With the collapse of the DRAM and NAND flash markets over the past year, a complete switch has occurred, with Samsung having 23% more total semiconductor sales than Intel in 1Q18 but Intel having 23% more semiconductor sales than Samsung just one year later in 1Q19!".

Kingston Introduces Next-Gen KC2000 NVMe PCIe SSD

Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., a world leader in memory products and technology solutions, today announced KC2000, its next generation M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD for enterprise and power users. Kingston's KC2000 NVMe PCIe SSD delivers powerful performance using the latest Gen 3.0 x 4 controller and 96-layer 3D TLC NAND. Offering superior read and write speeds up to 3,200 and 2,200MB/s, respectively, KC2000 delivers outstanding performance and endurance, and improves workflow in desktop, workstations and high-performance computing (HPC) systems.

KC2000 is a self-encrypting drive that supports end-to-end data protection using 256-bit AES Hardware-based encryption and allows the usage of independent software vendors with TCG Opal 2.0 security management solutions such as Symantec , McAfee , WinMagic and others. KC2000 also has built-in Microsoft eDrive support, a security storage specification for use with BitLocker.

XPG Retains Top Spot by Overclocking SPECTRIX D60G to 5738MT/s

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high-performance DRAM modules, NAND Flash products, and mobile accessories today announces that the XPG Overclocking Lab (XOCL) has overclocked the SPECTRIX D60G RGB DDR4 memory module to a frequency of 5738 MT/s, a new world record. The previous record was 5726 MT/s, which was set only a few days prior. The new record was achieved with an Intel Core i9 chipset and MSI MPG Z390I GAMING EDGE AC motherboard in an LN2-cooled configuration.

Toshiba and Western Digital to Jointly Invest in Flash Manufacturing Facility in Kitakami, Japan

Toshiba Memory Corporation and Western Digital Corp. have finalized a formal agreement to jointly invest in the "K1" manufacturing facility that Toshiba Memory is currently constructing in Kitakami, Iwate Prefecture, Japan. The K1 facility will produce 3D flash memory to support growing demand for storage in applications such as data centers, smartphones and autonomous cars. Construction of the K1 facility is expected to be completed in the fall of calendar 2019. The companies' joint capital investments in equipment for the K1 facility will enable initial production output of 96-layer 3D flash memory beginning in calendar 2020, with meaningful output expected to begin later in the year.

Toshiba Memory and Western Digital will continue to cultivate and extend their leadership in their respective memory businesses by actively developing initiatives aimed at strengthening technology competitiveness, advancing joint development of 3D flash memory, and making capital investments according to market trends.

Intel to Move 3D XPoint Memory Manufacturing to China

With its IMFlash Technology joint-venture with Micron coming to an end, Intel is finding itself with manufacturing challenges for its memory businesses. The company holds IP to both 3D NAND flash and its own invention 3D XPoint memory, which it believes will succeed NAND flash in performance and endurance. The company is now mulling to move manufacturing of 3D XPoint to a foundry in China. Intel currently manufactures this exotic new memory at an IMFlash Technology facility in Utah. Intel's $1.3 billion stake-sale to Micron pushes it out of this facility.

Under the terms of the stake-sale, Micron allows Intel to continue to manufacture 3D XPoint at IMFlash for a year, after which it must manufacture it elsewhere. The transfer of stake is scheduled for October 31st, which means Intel's manufacturing in Utah will continue till October 2020. In the meantime, Intel is planning to move manufacturing to its Fab 68, located in Dalian, China. Intel is now manufacturing 1st and 2nd generation 3D Xpoint, while its 3rd generation is under development, and was earlier slated for initial manufacturing at Intel's Fab 11X in New Mexico, USA. It's not known if Intel has changed these plans. 3rd generation 3D XPoint hits mass-production in 2021.

Western Digital Announces Automotive-grade iNAND EM132 eMMC Storage

Western Digital Corp. is addressing the automotive industry's increasing need for storage by equipping vehicle manufacturers and system solution providers with the technology and capacity to support both current and future applications including e-cockpits, Artificial Intelligence (AI) databases, ADAS, advanced infotainment systems, and autonomous computers. As the first 256GB e.MMC using 64-Layer 3D NAND TLC flash technology in the automotive market, the new Western Digital iNAND AT EM132 EFD extends the life of e.MMC beyond 2D NAND to meet evolving application needs and growing capacity requirements.

According to Neil Shah, partner and research director, Counterpoint Research, "Storage is one of the fastest growing semiconductor applications in a connected autonomous car. The advanced in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), AI and sensor-driven autonomous driving systems generate large amounts of data that needs to be processed and stored locally at the edge. The average capacity of storage required per vehicle is expected to balloon beyond 2TB by 2022."

SK Hynix Begins Sampling 96-layer 4D QLC NAND Flash Memory

SK Hynix Inc., announced today that it has delivered samples of new 1Tb (Terabit) QLC (Quadruple Level Cell) product to major SSD (Solid State Drive) Controller companies. The Company applied its own QLC technology to its world's first 96-Layer "CTF (Charge Trap Flash) based 4D (Four-Dimensional) NAND Flash (or 4D NAND)." SK Hynix intends to expand its NAND portfolio to 96-layer-based 1Tb QLC products in time for the QLC market opening and strengthen its responsiveness to the next-generation high-density memory market.

QLC stores four bits of data in one NAND cell, allowing higher density compared to TLC (Triple Level Cell) that stores three bits per cell. Using QLC, it is possible to develop high-density products with cost competitiveness. SK Hynix is able to secure the industry's top-level cost competitiveness through this product, which has reduced the area to less than 90% of the existing 3D-based QLC products.

Western Digital Launches 4 TB Version of its Blue SATA SSD

Western Digital is launching a behemoth, consumer-oriented 4 TB SSD based on its WD Blue product line. The WD Blue 4 TB uses the SATA interface (for which controllers are still slightly cheaper than for NVMe solutions) with a Marvell 88SS1074 4-channel controller with a 64-layer 3D TLC NAND from SanDisk. Read and write speeds are basically SATA III-bound (sequential 560MB/s read and 530MB/s write speeds, with random 4K read/write of 95K/82K IOPS.)

The WD Blue 4TB SATA SSD has its official availability date on May 13th, but it's already popping up here and there around retailers' shops in Europe. The 4 TB SSD is being priced at €545, which seems to be inline with expectations for such a capacity level. Quick napkin math saying that these should find a home at the sub-$500 level is very likely accurate, considering past pricing practices from manufacturers between the European and US markets.

Intel Reports First-Quarter 2019 Financial Results

Intel Corporation today reported first-quarter 2019 financial results. "Results for the first quarter were slightly higher than our January expectations. We shipped a strong mix of high performance products and continued spending discipline while ramping 10nm and managing a challenging NAND pricing environment. Looking ahead, we're taking a more cautious view of the year, although we expect market conditions to improve in the second half," said Bob Swan, Intel CEO. "Our team is focused on expanding our market opportunity, accelerating our innovation and improving execution while evolving our culture. We aim to capitalize on key technology inflections that set us up to play a larger role in our customers' success, while improving returns for our owners."

In the first quarter, the company generated approximately $5.0 billion in cash from operations, paid dividends of $1.4 billion and used $2.5 billion to repurchase 49 million shares of stock. In the first quarter, Intel achieved 4 percent growth in the PC-centric business while data-centric revenue declined 5 percent.

SK Hynix Inc. Reports First Quarter 2019 Results

SK Hynix Inc. today announced financial results for its first quarter 2019 ended on March 31, 2019. The consolidated first quarter revenue was 6.77 trillion won while the operating profit amounted to 1.37 trillion won and the net income 1.1 trillion won. Operating margin for the quarter was 20% and net margin was 16%.

Because of a faster-than-expected price decline and lower shipments due to slowing memory demand, the revenue and the operating profit in the first quarter fell by 32% and 69%, respectively, quarter-over-quarter (QoQ). Due to seasonal slowdown and conservative server purchases, DRAM bit shipments decreased by 8% QoQ. The average selling price dropped by 27%. For NAND Flash, the average selling price decreased by 32% due to high inventory levels and intensifying competition among suppliers. The bit shipments declined by 6% QoQ.

Intel Packs 3D X-Point and QLC NAND Flash Into a Single SSD: Optane H10

Intel today revealed details about Intel Optane memory H10 with solid-state storage - an innovative device that combines the superior responsiveness of Intel Optane technology with the storage capacity of Intel Quad Level Cell (QLC) 3D NAND technology in a single space-saver M.2 form factor. "Intel Optane memory H10 with solid-state storage features the unique combination of Intel Optane technology and Intel QLC 3D NAND - exemplifying our disruptive approach to memory and storage that unleashes the full power of Intel-connected platforms in a way no else can provide," said Rob Crooke, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group.

Combining Intel Optane technology with Intel QLC 3D NAND technology on a single M.2 module enables Intel Optane memory expansion into thin and light notebooks and certain space-constrained desktop form factors - such as all-in-one PCs and mini PCs. The new product also offers a higher level of performance not met by traditional Triple Level Cell (TLC) 3D NAND SSDs today and eliminates the need for a secondary storage device.

Western Digital Introduces Surveillance-Class Storage with Extreme Endurance For AI-Enabled Security

Western Digital Corp. today unveiled the new Western Digital WD Purple SC QD312 Extreme Endurance microSD card for designers and manufacturers of AI-enabled security cameras, smart video surveillance and advanced edge devices that capture and store video at higher bit rates than mainstream cameras. According to IHS Markit, global shipments of professional video surveillance cameras are expected to grow from 127 million to over 200 million between 2017 and 2022, and those with on-board storage are expected to grow by an average of approximately 19 percent per year.

With the migration to 4K and higher video resolutions, and the introduction of more smart cameras with built-in AI and improved local processing capabilities, surveillance cameras need to be able to store both video and raw data to facilitate these AI capabilities. As a result, storage with higher capacity, more intelligence and greater durability is increasingly required.

Intel Announces Broadest Product Portfolio for Moving, Storing, and Processing Data

Intel Tuesday unveiled a new portfolio of data-centric solutions consisting of 2nd-Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, Intel Optane DC memory and storage solutions, and software and platform technologies optimized to help its customers extract more value from their data. Intel's latest data center solutions target a wide range of use cases within cloud computing, network infrastructure and intelligent edge applications, and support high-growth workloads, including AI and 5G.

Building on more than 20 years of world-class data center platforms and deep customer collaboration, Intel's data center solutions target server, network, storage, internet of things (IoT) applications and workstations. The portfolio of products advances Intel's data-centric strategy to pursue a massive $300 billion data-driven market opportunity.

PCIe SSDs Increasing in Demand, Overtaking SATA Solutions in 2019

DigiTimes, citing industry sources, has reported that PCIe-based SSDs will be overtaking SATA-based solutions during 2019. This makes sense in a number of ways: the smaller footprint for Pcie-based, M.2 SSDs means they are prone to higher adoption form laptop manufacturers tan their SATA counterparts. On the desktop and DIY side of things, SATA solutions have sometimes been preferred to their PCIe counterparts mostly due to the pricing delta between solutions across those form factors.

However, as NAND prices have declined precipitously, and PCIe controllers' pricing has done so too, we are now hitting a point where the cost strain on SATA's additional materials compared to their PCIe counterparts leaves the delta so small that it doesn't make any sense to purchase a SATA-limited drive (usually limited only by the speed of the SATA III interface itself) instead of a PCIe-based one. AS demand picks up some additional 20-25% for 2019, this will mostly be taken up by PCIe-based solutions. Pricing of a 512 GB PCIe storage device is now comparable to that of a 256 GB unit just a year ago. Pricing is expected to keep falling for the duration of this year.

Toshiba and Western Digital Readying 128-layer 3D NAND Flash

Toshiba and its strategic ally Western Digital are readying a high-density 128-layer 3D NAND flash memory. In Toshiba's nomenclature, the chip will be named BiCS-5. Interestingly, despite the spatial density, the chip will implement TLC (3 bits per cell), and not the newer QLC (4 bits per cell). This is probably because NAND flash makers are still spooked about the low yields of QLC chips. Regardless, the chip has a data density of 512 Gb. With 33% more capacity than 96-layer chips, the new 128-layer chips could hit commercial production in 2020-21.

The BiCS-5 chip reportedly features a 4-plane design. Its die is divided into four sections, or planes, which can each be independently accessed; as opposed to BiCS-4 chips that use a 2-plane layout. This reportedly doubles the write performance per unit-channel to 132 MB/s from 66 MB/s. The die also reportedly uses CuA (circuitry under array), a design innovation in which logic circuitry is located in the bottom-most "layer," with data layers stacked above, resulting in 15 percent die-size savings. Aaron Rakers, a high-technology industry market analyst with Wells Fargo, estimates that Toshiba-WD's yields per 300 mm wafer could be as high as 85 percent.

Samsung Begins Mass Production of Industry-First 512GB eUFS 3.0

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has begun mass producing the industry's first 512-gigabyte (GB) embedded Universal Flash Storage (eUFS) 3.0 for next-generation mobile devices. In line with the latest eUFS 3.0 specification, the new Samsung memory delivers twice the speed of the previous eUFS storage (eUFS 2.1), allowing mobile memory to support seamless user experiences in future smartphones with ultra-large high-resolution screens.

"Beginning mass production of our eUFS 3.0 lineup gives us a great advantage in the next-generation mobile market to which we are bringing a memory read speed that was before only available on ultra-slim laptops," said Cheol Choi, executive vice president of Memory Sales & Marketing at Samsung Electronics. "As we expand our eUFS 3.0 offerings, including a 1-Terabyte (TB) version later this year, we expect to play a major role in accelerating momentum within the premium mobile market."

Intel's FinFET-Based Embedded MRAM is Ready for Production

A report via EETimes slates Intel's own working MRAM (Magnetoresistive Random-Access Memory) is ready for production in high-volume manufacturing. MRAM is a nonvolatile memory technology, meaning that it retains information even if there is a change in powerstate (ie, power loss), meaning that it's more akin to a storage device than to, say, RAM.

But why does MRAM matter, really? Well, MRAM is being developed as a long-term candidate to a universal memory solution, replacing both DRAM (a volatile memory technology) and NAND flash (a nonvolatile one), since node scaling with these technologies is becoming increasingly harder. MRAM promises better-scaling (at the foundry level) processes, with much higher yield rates. The fact that MRAM has been demonstrated to be able to achieve 1 ns settling times, better than the currently accepted theoretical limits for DRAM, and much higher write speeds (as much as thousands of times faster) compared to NAND flash.

2019 the Year of 1TB SSDs: Prices Fall by 50%

1-Terabyte SSDs could become a new mainstream-desktop must-have in 2019, as prices of the drives have fallen by 50 percent year-over-year, according to DigiTimes. A 1 TB SATA SSD in the 2.5-inch form-factor can now be had for as little as $99, while faster NVMe drives in the M.2 form-factor start around $130. At the beginning of 2018, 1 TB SATA SSDs used to start around the $160-mark, and NVMe drives north of $200. The 1 TB category includes 960 GB, 1000 GB, and 1024 GB marketed capacities with varying amounts of overprovisioning set by manufacturers.

Falling SSD prices are accelerated by the entry of cost-effective 96-layer 3D NAND flash, higher-density QLC NAND flash, undigested inventories of drives based on older technologies such as 64-layer or TLC NAND flash; and a 15 percent sequential quarterly drop in NAND flash prices in the industry. Growth in speeds of client-segment SSDs have remained largely flat over the year, and not much is to be expected in performance growth other than perhaps the advent of PCIe gen 4.0 based enterprise SSDs towards the end of the year.

Mushkin Showcases Multiple Storage Solutions at CES 2019

Mushkin has been focusing most of its product offerings on the storage area, with multiple product tiers in the SSD space. At CEs 2019, the company put together a booth where it showcased some of its more recent advancements in this product category.

The Pilot-E is an internal NVMe SSD available in 250 GB to 2 TB capacities, with an astonishing up to 3.4 GB/s read and 2.5 GB/s write speeds, powered by an SMI SM226EN controller and 3D TLC NAND. Another lower-tier interpretation of the Pilot-E is the Pilot, which ranges from 120 GB - 2 TB, but uses a slower Silicon Motion SM2262 controller which brings the performance numbers down to 3.2 GB/s and 1.9 GB/s in sequential read and write, respectively.

Toshiba Shows Off 96-Layer BiCS FLASH Alongside Plethora of Enterprise SSDs at CES 2019

During our visit with Toshiba at CES 2019, we were shown not only new technologies that they will be rapidly deploying but a large number of SSDs for various market segments. The biggest draw was their 96-layer BiCS Flash with 4-bit-per-cell quadruple-level cell (QLC) technology. Toshiba is now pushing the boundary for capacity as a single chip device can reach 1.33 Tb (Terabits) while a single package device with 16-dies stacked architecture can reach 2.66 TB. That said, they are already sampling their 1 TB NVMe single package BG4 series SSDs to PC OEM customers in limited quantities.

These latest drives with their new BiCS FLASH technology incorporate everything into a tiny SSD that offers class-leading storage with sequential read performance reaching up to 2250 MB/s. Random read performance can also hit exceptional levels reaching up to 380,000 IOPS. For now, these BG4 based drives are targeted at ultra-thin PC notebooks, IoT embedded systems and will be made available in four capacities including; 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB and finally 1 TB. To meet expected demand, Toshiba will also be opening a facility in Japan dedicated to this latest technology in order to bring even higher capacities per NAND module.

TrendForce: Contract Prices of NAND Flash Products to Drop Further 10% just in 1Q19

According to a report from DRAMeXchange, a division of market analytics firm TrendForce, contractor pricing of NAND flash products could drop some further 10% entering 2019 and throughout just the first quarter of the next year. Citing higher than expected but output from NAND manufacturers, who managed to ramp up their 64-bit 3D NAND ad higher-than-expected ratios, and with stagnating smartphone demand, channel quantities' increase will lead to dripping (if not cascading) pricing.

As for the trend in the SSD market, DRAMeXchange expects Client SSD contract prices to fall by nearly 10% in 1Q19, a great boon for customers. With global notebook shipments for 1Q19 estimated to decrease by over 15% QoQ, slowing demand for SSDs will lead to decreasing prices matching demand, despite the increasing SSD adoption rate in the PC market and the memory content upgrades. Long story short, enthusiasts: don't do any Christmas shopping for SSDs, barring some amazing deals that do pop up.

Greenliant Industrial SSDs Reach Ultra-High Endurance of 250,000 PE Cycles

Greenliant has introduced a new class of ultra-high endurance solid state drives (SSDs) that can reach up to 250,000 program/erase (P/E) cycles. These 1-bit-per-cell (SLC) SSDs are part of Greenliant's new EnduroSLC product line, which offers various endurance specifications-50K, 100K and 250K P/E cycles-for demanding industrial applications.

NANDrive SSDs, enabled by Greenliant's EnduroSLC Technology, now provide embedded systems designers with more options when choosing data storage products for long life applications. Using advanced NAND flash management algorithms and hardware error correction code (ECC) capabilities, Greenliant can significantly increase the life of its high reliability NANDrive SSDs for customers requiring superior endurance and data retention for extended periods of time.

Samsung Launches The New 860 QVO SSD Starting At $149.99 For The 1 TB Model

Samsung Electronics today unveiled its new consumer solid state drive (SSD) lineup - the Samsung 860 QVO SSD - featuring up to four terabytes (TB) of storage capacity with exceptional speed and reliability. Built on the company's high-density 4-bit multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash architecture, the 860 QVO makes terabyte capacities more accessible to the masses at approachable price points.

"Today's consumers are using, producing and storing more high-resolution files than ever, including 4K videos and graphics-intensive games, escalating demand for greater capacities and performance in storage devices," said Dr. Mike Mang, vice president of Brand Product Marketing, Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. "Samsung continues to lead the move toward multi-terabyte SSDs with the introduction of the Samsung 860 QVO, delivering fast performance, reliability and value to more consumers around the world."

ADATA Launches XPG microSDXC UHS-I U3 Class 10 Cards

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high-performance DRAM modules, NAND Flash products, and mobile accessories today announces the launch of its XPG microSDXC UHS-I U3 Class 10 cards. Made for those who live and breathe portable gaming, these Application Performance Class 1 (A1) cards sport read of up to 100MB/s and write of up to 85MB/s, providing users instant gratification with fast access to their games.

Great for All Types of Portable Gaming

With read speeds of up to 100MB/s and write speeds of up to 85MB/s, users will revel in the ability to download, install and start up games quickly. In addition to portable gaming devices like the Nintendo Switch , XPG microSDXC UHS-I cards also help speed things up on smartphones, tablets, and VR devices. 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacity cards are on offer to provide expanded storage space for downloadable content (DLC), downloadable games, and more.

SSDs Are Cheaper Than Ever, Hit the Magic 10 Cents Per Gigabyte Threshold

It may be quite difficult to find bargains when it comes to DDR4 system memory or high-end graphics cards these days, but at least SSDs are more affordable now to help bandage that wound. This price drop of solid state storage has been happening throughout this year, and some units have reached a cost of 10 cents per gigabyte, a milestone difficult to have imagined a couple of years ago. The 2 TB variant of the Crucial MX500 SSD, for example, can be found now at $209, and those interested may want to check out our review of the 1 TB version before committing to a purchase.

This is great news already, but there is even better news coming as that cost will reportedly continue to drop. NAND flash could drop to $0.08 per gigabyte in 2019 according to some analysts, and some alternatives such as QLC drives from Samsung could push that trend even further. The traditional HDD market is also getting more inexpensive and better bang-for-your-buck, with a 2017 report from BackBlaze showed for example how cost per gigabyte was approaching $0.02 per gigabyte a year ago on some units. As always, price prediction reports tend to come out with the US market as a case study, but our own global TechPowerUp team is appreciating having more SSDs on deck for files and programs alike.
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