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No Relief for DRAM and NAND Shortages in Sight; Considerable Supply Only in 2018

DRAM prices have been high for quite some time now, due to a general increased demand over a slowly improving supply capability from manufacturers. Pricing of DRAM has been increasing (to the tune that if I wanted to double my memory capacity, I would have to pay double of what I paid a mere 11 months ago.) NAND pricing has been affected as well, with newer technologies such as 3D NAND not having a relevant impact on end user pricing as was expected, since tight supply and growing demand means process-level savings are dwarfed by the increasing prices on the balance of supply and demand.

Most of our woes can be traced back to high-end smartphones, which make use of up to 6 GB of RAM and have copious amounts of NAND memory. Now, reports are coming in that due to the iPhone 8's impending launch, supply is even tighter, with several firms being either unable to secure the amount of Ram they are looking for, or having to order in significant advance (futures speculation anyone?) Reuters is reporting that some clients have moved to 6-month supply agreements for their DRAM and NAND purchases, accepting higher prices than the customary quarterly or monthly deals, to make sure they get enough memory chips for their products.

Samsung Ramps up 64-Layer 3D V-NAND Memory Production

Samsung Electronics, the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has begun volume production of 64-layer, 256Gb V-NAND flash memory for use with an expanding line-up of storage solutions for server, PC and mobile applications. Since Samsung began producing the industry's first SSD based on 64-layer 256Gb V-NAND chips in January for key IT customers, it has been working on a wide range of new V-NAND-based mobile and consumer storage solutions. These include embedded UFS memory, branded SSDs and external memory cards, which the company plans to introduce later this year.

To solidify its competitive edge in the memory market, Samsung intends for its volume production of the 64-layer V-NAND chip, which is widely referred to as 4th generation V-NAND, to cover more than 50 percent of its monthly NAND flash production by year end. "Following a long commitment to innovative technology, we will continuously push the limits of generations of industry-first V-NAND production, in moving the industry closer to the advent of the terabit V-NAND era," said Kye Hyun Kyung, Executive Vice President of the Flash Product and Technology team, Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. "We will keep developing next-generation V-NAND products in sync with the global IT industry so that we can contribute to the timeliest launches of new systems and services, in bringing a higher level of satisfaction to consumers."

NVMe 1.3 Specification Published

NVM Express, the special interest group behind the NVMe protocol, which enables significantly higher performance on flash-based storage devices, compared to the AHCI protocol, published the NVMe 1.3 specification. This is the most significant update to the protocol since the NVMe 1.2 specification released in 2014. NVMe 1.3, which could be implemented in SSDs, motherboards, and HBA cards starting late-2017 or 2018, introduces several major features that increase performance, endurance, and manageability of flash-based storage devices, such as SSDs.

To begin with, NVMe 1.3 introduces a drive self-test feature similar to SMART. The host machine can now command the drive to perform a self-test without having to mount volumes and expose their contents to OS-based utilities. The self-test parameters could be left up to the drive vendor, and could include hardware tests in addition to data integrity tests. The protocol also adds much needed support for boot-partitions, without needing the motherboard UEFI firmware to store it. The current implementation of motherboards with NVMe booting support involves storing a tiny boot partition with the bootloader on the SPI flash chip of the motherboard which stores the UEFI firmware.

ADATA Launches ISSS333 Industrial-Grade Solid State Drives

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of highperformance DRAM modules and NAND Flash products,today launched industrial-grade ISSS333 solid state drives in 3D MLC and 3D TLC versions. The ISSS333 range offers robust temperature, vibration, and shock tolerance as required in commercial and industrial applications. At the same time, users tap fast performance via universally-compatible SATA 6Gbps in a standard 2.5" form factor. Compared to mechanical storage, ISSS333 drives deliver vastly increased reliability, speed, and power efficiency.

While SSDs become more popular as industrial and commercial storage, demand diversifies. Consequently, ADATA offers the ISSS333 range in 3D MLC and 3D TLC (multi-level cell and triple-level cell) versions. The use of 3D NAND ensures improved reliability and efficiency compared to older 2D NAND, with the MLC models ranging in capacity from 120GB to 1TB while TLC ISSS333 drives ship in 128GB to 1TB.

Samsung Could Become Top Chipmaker in 2Q17, Dethrone Intel

Samsung could be on the verge of a historic dethroning of Intel as the dominant chipmaker in the IC world, if a recent report from IC Insights is to be believed. The report shows Samsung actually exceeding Intel's semiconductor sales in 2Q 2017, no doubt spurred on by mobile market growth and the proliferation of ARM based SOCs manufactured by Samsung.

Intel has held the dominant position for nearly a quarter century as its x86 architecture powered most PCs and notebooks/netbooks since 1993. The number of components they sell is not just limited to CPUs either: Intel is a provider of chips for everything from networking to thermal sensors, for Samsung to compete with such a giant in the semiconductor market at all (let alone exceed their sales) is quite a feat indeed.

Transcend Announces Four SSD Product Lines Based on 3D NAND

Transcend Memory announced four client SSD product lines based on 3D NAND flash memory. The lineup begins with the new MTS810 and MTS420 lines of mainstream SSDs built in the M.2-2280 and M.2-2242 form-factors, respectively, which take advantage of the SATA 6 Gb/s interface. The MTS810 succeeds the MTS800 series the company launched in 2016. It is based on a newer TLC NAND flash memory, and a more compact SSD controller made by Silicon Motion. The drive puts out up to 560 MB/s of sequential transfer rates. The MTS420 is its miniaturized version in the M.2-2242 form-factor. Both drives will be available only in 128 GB capacities.

Next up, is the SSD230 series. The company already announced this drive back in November 2016. Built in the 7 mm-thick 2.5-inch form-factor, it comes in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB capacities, and offers sequential transfer rates of up to 560 MB/s reads, with up to 520 MB/s writes. Lastly, Transcend unveiled its latest high-performance M.2-2280 SSD, which takes advantage of the PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface with NVMe 1.2 protocol, the MTE850 series. Available in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB capacities, the drive belts out sequential transfer rates of up to 2,500 MB/s reads, with up to 1,100 MB/s writes. It features 3D MLC NAND flash memory.

ADATA Launches the XPG SX7000 PCI Express 3.0 x4 M.2 2280SSD

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high performance DRAM modules and NAND Flash products, today launched theSX7000 SSD as part of its growing XPG gaming brand. The SX7000 uses an M.2 2280 form factor and carefully-sorted 3D TLC NAND Flash, paired with an SMI controller. The SX7000 interfaces with motherboards via PCI Express 3.0 x4 and meets NVMe 1.2 specifications to deliver 1800MB/s read, 850MB/s write, and 130K/140K IOPS. The SX7000 is available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB, making the most of the flexibility of 3D NAND to present consumers with greater choice based on budget and need.

TRENDFOCUS Reports SSD Pricing Increases up to 36%, YoY; 2018 to Offer Respite

Market intelligence analysis company TRENDFOCUS revealed in its latest blog post how SSD market has increased by up to 36% in the last four quarters, with price hikes after prices hikes accompanying increasing demand (and sales) of the speedy storage media. And TRENDFOCUS warns that these price hikes are like here to stay until 2017 has run its course, with projections of price reductions only materializing in early 2018. This should put some brakes towards the trend of including SSD storage on mainstream OEM computers and laptops, as the price increase from adding this type of storage would bring prices beyond the mainstream. Likewise, the aggressive ratio at which SSDs were replacing HDDs as storage media as correspondingly declined a bit, though this move still stays strong and isn't likely to (nor should it) fully subside.

The company also sees an increasing pricing delta between conventional SATA-based solutions and their higher-performing PCIe counterparts, with the pricing of PCIe-based SSDs increasing more than those that leverage SATA connections. TRENDFOCUS reports how 2017 pricing hinges on 3D NAND ramping as predicted this year, with higher prices in the demand-heavy back-to-school season) if this ramp fails. The company still feels confident about an eventual return to quarterly takedowns on SSD pricing, coeteris paribus, come 2018.

Source: TrendFocus

ADATA Announces the i-Memory AI920 Jet Black Flash Drive

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high performance DRAM modules, NAND Flash products, and mobile accessories today launched the i-Memory AI920 Jet Black Flash drive for iOS devices. Featuring Lightning and USB 3.1 in one slim 6.9mm device, the AI920 delivers 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacity and up to 150MB/s read. The Jet Black color scheme has been added in order to better complement Apple devices with an exact color match with iPhone 7, giving consumer more choice. The AI920 is also Apple MFi certified, making it an official iOS accessory.

ADATA Presents the UV310 USB Drive

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of highperformance DRAM modules, NAND Flash products, and mobile accessories today launchedthe compact and ultra-light UV310 USB Flash drive. Made using sturdy chip-on-board (COB), unibody (one-piece) construction, the UV310 employs zinc alloy and sandblasted textures to combine an alluring metallic look with a high degree of toughness. It weighs just 4.7g and is available in up to 64GB. Fashionable, sleek, and sophisticated, the UV310 re-affirms the ADATA commitment to producing the finest USB drives.

ADATA utilizes unibody COB construction with the UV310 to ensure a compact but durable product that minimizes weak points thanks to a seamless design. Material-wise, the UV310 consists of zinc alloy, sandblasted to create a textured surface that resists scratches and is immune to fingerprint smudges. The gold color scheme of the UV310 lends it a very elegant look, emphasized by its high resistance to everything from dust to shocks and water exposure. This durability means wherever consumers go, their data remains well protected - far beyond the norms of generic, plasticky USB drives.

Samsung's Z- SSD Featuring Z-NAND Makes a Physical Appearance

NAND has come here to stay, and it's market penetration still has a lot of leeway. Samsung, bar none the biggest and best player in the NAND field, is in a uniquely privileged position to develop new technologies and capitalize on them. Remember that Samsung has so many distinct product lines on which to monetize its advancements that any new investment is hardly a make it or break it affair.

Z-NAND is Samsung's answer to other developing technologies such as 3D XPoint, of which Intel has just announced the first commercial product. Z-NAND looks to stand at the intersection between NAND and DRAM, and is more of an evolution of the NAND design than it is a totally new technology (thus distancing itself from the likes of 3D XPoint.)

ADATA Releases the SD600 External 3D NAND SSD

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high performance DRAM modules, NAND Flash products, and mobile accessories today launched the SD600 external SSD, which uses high quality 3D TLC NAND to offer 256GB and 512GB variants. The drive reaches speeds of 440MB/s read and 430MB/s write, easily outpacing external HDDs. It weighs a mere 90g for convenient portability, and works driver-free with Windows PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Android. The SD600 is available in all-black and red-black color schemes, and employs impact-resistant materials in its sporty design to support active lifestyles.

ATP Reveals 3D NAND SSD Product Line at Embedded World 2017

ATP Electronics Inc reveals its new 3D NAND based SATA product line up on the Embedded World 2017 in Nuremberg. The products have gone through stringent chip as well as module level validation tests and will be manufactured using ATP's in-house self-packaging technology. Available form factors include 2.5", mSATA, SlimSATA and M.2 in various capacities, including intermediate densities such as 192 GB, 384 GB and 768 GB. The products will be showcased at ATP's booth in Hall 1, Booth #1-655.

ADATA Releases the XPG SX950 SSD and EX500 Enclosure

ADATA Technology, a leading manufacturer of high performance DRAM modules, NAND Flash products, and mobile accessories today launched the XPG SX950 SSD and its accompanying gaming-styled EX500 drive enclosure. Loaded with up to 960GB of 3D MLC NAND and driven by a SMI controller, the SX950 utilizes a custom ADATA PCB and is backed by an extra-strict chip sorting process to ensure an SSD that can handle prolonged high demand. Performance reaches 560MB/s read and 530MB/s write. Bearing the signature XPG look, the EX500 is aimed at gamers and case modders, boasting a textured enclosure and a vibrant yet aggressive feel. It arrives with a spacer and bracket for easy install on desktops and notebooks. For users that would like to use the SX950 as external storage, the EX500 offers a stylish, durable, and easy-install enclosure that pairs instantly with desktops, notebooks, and game consoles via high speed USB 3.1.

ADATA is completing its transition to stacked memory, or 3D NAND. This allows for SSDs with bigger capacities without a correlating increase in prices paid by end users. The SX950 uses durable 3D MLC (multi-level cell) NAND Flash and SMI controller. Consumers can choose from 240GB, 480B, and 960GB versions of the SX950. Not only denser (higher capacity), 3D NAND is also roughly 10% faster than 2D NAND and so the SX950 outpaces its predecessor, the SX930 - reaching 560MB/s read and 530MB/s write.

Death By a Thousand Cuts: Toshiba to Sell Majority of its Semiconductor Business

Toshiba may not be dead in the water just yet, but news are dire for the company. After the company confirmed it was looking to spin-off its NAND production business so as to sell a minority, 20% stake for much-needed liquidity in the face of amounting debt and multiple management mistakes, reports now announce a much more aggressive stance from the company. It is now apparently looking to sell a majority stake (60%) on the spin-off, in the face of escalating costs and dwindling prospective chances.

WD Announces Pilot Production of World's First 64-Layer 512 Gb TLC NAND

Toshiba may be in the ropes for now, but WD, one of its foremost partners (mainly due to its SanDisk acquisition) and most interested party in Toshiba's NAND spin-off efforts, has just announced that it is world first in actually producing a 64-Layer 512 Gb TLC NAND die. WD is developing and producing this 64-layer NAND at its Yokkaichi, Japan fab which it operates alongside - you guessed it - Toshiba, under their joint Flash Forward venture, though there is no indication as to when the new dies will hit full production. The addition of the latest BiCS3 iteration indicates that, despite its recent challenges and snags, Toshiba continues to execute on its semiconductor roadmap, which is certain to be a boon in keeping the value of its NAND production capabilities in the face of the confirmed spin-off and sell-off of a 20% stake on its NAND production business.

There has been some difficulty in achieving any significant ramp-up in 3D NAND production over at the WD-Toshiba venture, with WD having announced a 256 Gb version of the same BiCS 3 technology it employs on the new 512 Gb die last year, to no considerable volume of production. That's one of the reasons for the current NAND shortage and price rises, among other factors, so let's hope all goes well in this ramp up. If all goes well, 1 TB SSD's with 512 Gb TLC NAND dies for $150?

Micron's Outlook for the Future of Memory: GDDR6, QuantX in 2017

After finally reaching mature yields (comparable to those of planar NAND processes), Micron's 32-layer first generation 3D NAND has grown increasingly prominent in the company's NAND output. Now, the company is looking to ramp-up production of their (currently sampling) 64-layer 3D NAND, promising "meaningful output" by the end of December 2017, looking for an 80% increase in total GB per wafer and a 30% decrease in production costs.

When it comes to the graphics subsystem memory, Micron is looking to transition their 20nm production to a "1x nm" (most likely 16nm) node, in a bid to improve cost per GB by around $20, with introduction of 16nm GDDR5 memory to be introduced later this year. However, GDDR5X volume is expected to grow significantly, in a bid to satisfy bandwidth-hungry uses through GPUs (like NVIDIA's GTX 1080 and potentially the upcoming 1080 Ti) and networking, with GDDR6 memory being introduced by the end of 2017 or early 2018. The company is still mum on actual consumer products based on their interpretation of the 3D XPoint products through their QuantX brand, though work is already under way on the second and third generation specifications of this memory, with Micron planning an hitherto unknown (in significance and product type) presence in the consumer market by the end of this year.

Mushkin Expands Its SSD Lineup with Helix: M.2 PCIe 4x, 3D MLC NAND, Up To 2 TB

Adding to their SSD lineup, Mushkin, which makes some really interesting, good price-performance ratio products has recently announced the upcoming availability of their Helix line of M.2 2280 SSDs. Based on Silicon Motion's SM2260 controller paired with 3D MLC NAND, Mushkin positions the Helix line as a premium, high-performance offering for desktops and laptops alike. Models will vary from a 250 GB entry-level offering thorugh a 2 TB high-end SKU, with the 2 TB version offering sequential read performance at up to 2.5 GB/s and write performance at up to 1.1 GB/s, when Silicon Motion's pseudo-SLC caching technology is used to its best effect.

Toshiba Confirms Spin Off of Its NAND Flash Production Business

After some reports pegged this event has likely and upcoming, Toshiba has now confirmed that they will be spinning off their NAND production business, whilst simultaneously parting with a 20% minority stake on the resulting business. This would inject Toshiba's coffers with enough liquidity to keep the company afloat, whilst letting them keep a hold of their most profitable business.

While details are still scarce (namely regarding the structuring of this spin off and who will be the investor to buy the reported 20% stake that Toshiba is willing to part with (with it most likely being Western Digital, as we've mentioned in our previous piece), the company has announced that they want to complete the transaction by the end of this quarter, March 31st.

Toshiba to Spin-off NAND Production; WD to be Main Beneficiary

In an AMD-like move to generate more short-term liquidity so as to strengthen its somewhat precarious position, Toshiba may be moving towards one of the most interesting shakeups in the NAND production field: a possible spin-off of its NAND production business into a separate company.

This move to restructure comes in the wake of recent snags and strategic mistakes for the company - such as the $1.2 billion dollar accounting "misstated" earnings, which created difficulties for the company to refinance itself in the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Also not negligible was a gross miscalculation on the amount of debt of the CB&I Stone and Webster company that Toshiba acquired so as to facilitate its U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric nuclear plant subsidiary investment. This "miscalculation", where Toshiba considered the "goodwill" booking charges at $87 million, where recently restated as a roughly-defined "several billion U.S. dollars."

SK Hynix to Construct a Cutting Edge NAND Flash FAB in Cheongju

SK Hynix Inc. announced it will construct a new memory semiconductor FAB in Cheongju, Chungcheongbuk-do to meet increasing NAND Flash demand. This is a part of a mid/long-term investment plan that SK Hynix declared at M14 completion ceremony in August 2015. At that time, the Company said it could spend 46 trillion won to set up 3 new FABs in Icheon and Cheongju including the M14.

The new FAB will be located in a Cheongju Technopolis site. SK Hynix starts a design within next month then begins construction of the shell and the cleanroom in August 2017 to be completed in June 2019 with total investment of 2.2 trillion won. Equipment installation into the FAB shall be decided considering market conditions as well as the Company's migration plans.

Silicon Power Announces High-endurance SD Cards

SP/ Silicon Power, a leading provider of memory storage solutions, launches its new High Endurance microSDHC/microSDXC cards especially designed for car video recorders, security cameras and surveillance systems. These write-intensive applications crucially depend on the highest level of reliability to provide trustworthy proof in the most decisive moments. Equipped with high-quality MLC NAND flash chips, SP's new high Endurance micro SDHC/microSDXC card meets this special requirement by achieving up to 12,000 hours of 64 GB Full HD video recording.

Additional key features for reliable and speedy performance are the card's built- in error correction code (ECC) function technology for high data transmission safety and full support of Ultra High Speed Class 3 (U3) specification.

Micron Technology Announces World's Highest-Capacity Enterprise SATA SSD

Micron Technology, Inc. today introduced the Micron Enterprise 5100 Series SATA solid state drive (SSD) family, enabling future-focused data storage platforms to meet the combined demands of performance, capacity and enterprise-class reliability. Micron's 5100 Series Enterprise SATA SSDs provide IT with an easy migration to bridge the infrastructure divide to tomorrow's all flash data center. With an industry-leading 8-terabyte (TB) capacity, the 5100 Series helps you manage the data deluge created by today's diverse digital universe with performance characteristics perfectly tailored to manage the data tsunami.

"Micron is uniquely positioned to help IT embrace modernization and agility, and leading enterprise and cloud data centers look to Micron for breadth and depth in solid state storage solutions to tame a diverse digital universe," Darren Thomas, vice president of storage at Micron. "Our Micron 5100 Series SATA SSDs featuring FlexPro architecture offer a seamless migration path with enterprise class reliability and proven ROI, ensuring flexibility, continuity and agility for data management today and tomorrow."

SSD Pricing to Surge on the Back of NAND Shortages - Stock Your SSD Needs

Business. Business never changes. Whether you're for Keynes or Hayek, some truths just can't be escaped: and the one based on the market tending to equilibrium between the forces of supply and demand is oft times almost akin to a law of physics - other times, not so much. This time, it appears as if the market forces are steering NAND prices through the roof. The causes? Varied, though you probably carry one of them in your pocket most of the time. We earlier reported surging prices in the DRAM market, spurred by the Note 7 fiasco and increased production of that smartphone's competitors (and Samsung's own products) to fill the gaping hole left by its forcible market removal. But not only by DRAM are smartphones powered - they also make use of NAND flash.

Plextor Announces the EX 1 External SSD Drive

The specialist for high-performance digital memory technology and Solid State Drive products (SSD), Plextor, presents its new generation of ultra-light, small form factor, high-speed external SSD with OTG support and only 30g in weight: the Plextor EX1. The Plextor EX1 specifications are designed for high speeds, with the USB Type-C interface supporting USB 3.1 Gen2 standard, and delivering a 10x higher speed compared to the USB 2.0 interface, delivering continuous read/write speeds of 550 and 500 MB/s respectively.

The strength of the EX1 series is based on the core components used, including high-quality TLC NAND flash memory manufactured using Hynix's 16nm process, as well as the latest generation of controller ICs from SMI. Plextor has also developed an advanced firmware, and includes the PlexNitro application for increased user control. The Plextor EX1 will be available in stores from the end of November in three different storage capacities with 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. The EX1 complies with Plextor's stringent quality requirements, including a 3-year warrant. Pricing will be announced at a later date.
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