The supply shortage of NAND flash towards the end of 2016 is set to continue long into 2017 due to higher demand in the smartphone and solid-state drive (SSD) industries, according to DRAMeXchange. The short supply, coupled with strong demand, also will contribute to continued rising prices of NAND flash wafers and memory cards. Prices are also expected to rise for eMMC and eMCP.
Production capabilities are limited for NAND Flash and as a result lead times are getting longer. With shortage of supply comes obsolescence issues. With limited production capabilities inevitably NAND manufacturers are forced to concentrate on supply for the most popular and profitable technologies, namely consumer focused smartphones and tablets. Over the longer term this can have such a devastating effect on critical applications as new replacements need to be sought when less popular technologies are no longer supported.
The message from Simms to overcome potential obsolescence issues is;
1) Investigate and understand your short and medium term demand for NAND based products (0-12 months)
2) Highlight cost sensitive requirements and remove the volatility aspect by forward ordering.
3) Take stock provisions or work with a supplier who can manage this on your behalf.
4) Ensure that JIT and Call off facilities are in place with your supplier
Details on the NAND market below help to explain why we are facing these challenges.
The NAND Flash market is experiencing its biggest technology transition — to 3D NAND in an effort to continue cost reductions, increase performance and satisfy demand. NAND Semi Conductors have moved resources so that FABS are now focusing on 3D NAND technology.
Today’s NAND is mainly 2D so production levels have been significantly reduced as 3D NAND development takes priority. This has led to periods of under supply and created shortages which are unprecedented. The release of house hold mobile phone technologies for the tier 1 manufacturers such as Apple & Samsung has also added to over demand. As a Tier 1 customer these manufacturers are allocated vast amounts of 2D NAND wafer which restricts availability for all other partners thus leading to a shortage.