Flash Memory Cards in Short Supply, Price Increases are Imminent

NAND Flash Makers Shift Focus to SSD-Oriented Memory from Flash Memory Cards

by Anton Shilov
02/23/2013 | 08:19 AM

As the world’s largest producers of NAND flash memory shift efforts to make multi-level cell NAND flash memory using 20nm-class process technology to satisfy demand from makers of solid-state drives, they reduce shipments of triple-level cell memory, which is used for various memory cards. While the price of memory cards is expected to increase, NAND flash is not projected to get more considerably expensive in general.


DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, reports that although numerous end-products showed flat sales performances in the first half of February, NAND flash contract prices are expected to continue on a stable trend due to numerous supply-related factors. In fact, there is a shortage of NAND flash memory cards and contract prices of TLC [triple level cell] NAND chips are expected to get 1% - 3% cheaper.

In February, both Samsung's and Toshiba/SanDisk increased the proportion of multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash chips produced as a means to satisfy the OEM orders for eMMC and SSD products. This resulted in tightened TLC production, and in turn contributed to a shortage of memory cards and a 1-3% increase in TLC contract prices. Affected by the current shortage of the new 20nm-class-process chips intended for SSD applications, MLC contract prices have flattened out and remain largely stable during February, DRAMeXchange claims.

As the shortage for the memory cards and persisting demand towards 20nm-class-process MLC NAND flash chips, price trends are likely to continue into mid-March. TrendForce expects NAND flash contract prices to remain mostly stable in the short term.

During Q2, the weakened demand for smartphone and tablet PCs is expected to make the off-peak season effect on numerous NAND flash end-products appear more apparent than it was during the first quarter. At the same time, following the potential improvements to the yield rate and reliability of NAND flash chips made using 20nm-class process technology, shipments for the 20nm NAND flash-based SSDs and eMMC are likely to increase and help put an end to the shortage of SSDs and memory cards in early 2Q13.

Following the quarter-end settlement and promotion strategy effects expected by the end of Q1, NAND flash contract prices are projected to begin on a mild downtrend starting from the end of March.