Samsung and Toshiba are reportedly considering putting the brakes on their most advanced NAND flash process technologies until demand for solid state disks (SSDs) increases and producing NAND flash memory becomes more profitable.
The two companies are dealing with a softer demand for NAND flash memory than expected this year despite Intel's big push for ultrabook laptops that exclusively use SSDs rather than mechanical drives, Digitimes reported Friday.
Samsung and Toshiba both have state-of-the-art 12in fabs that produce NAND flash chips but "are mulling plans to decelerate capacity expansion" at those facilities in the face of falling prices for the products they're already producing, the Taiwanese tech site reported, citing unnamed industry sources.
Samsung's fab uses 21nm process technology and Toshiba's is on the 19nm node. The transition to those technologies has increased the two companies' output of NAND flash chips but both fear further expanding their capacity will only cause prices to decline even more.
Digitimes reported that a temporary stabilisation in NAND flash prices in June wasn't organic but rather the "result of Samsung's intentional reduction in its supply to China-based channel distributors," or in other words, an inventory dump.
Until recent years, desktop and laptop PCs have almost exclusively used mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs) while smaller devices like smartphones have used flash memory-based SSDs. The introduction of lighter, thinner laptop designs like the MacBook Air and various ultrabooks, combined with more affordable flash memory, has hastened the use of SSDs in a bigger chunk of the consumer PC market.
But apparently, that transition to SSDs isn't happening fast enough for two of the biggest NAND flash manufacturers on the planet, according to Digitimes, which quoted sources as saying the early days of the ultrabook market had proven "disappointing."