Chipmakers accelerate transition to 120/128-layer 3D NAND process
Siu Han, Taipei; Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES
Tuesday 4 June 2019
Chipmakers have stepped up development of their respective 120/128-layer 3D NAND flash process technologies for cost competitiveness, and are gearing up to have the technology transitions kick off in 2020, according to industry sources.
Some major NAND flash chipmakers have delivered samples of their 128-layer chips targeting the first half of 2020 for volume production, said the sources. Continued falls in NAND flash prices coupled with rising uncertainty on the demand side have prompted the players to accelerate their technology advancements for cost reasons, the sources continued.
Falling NAND flash market prices are eroding chipmakers' profitability. Industry leader Samsung Electronics is no exception, as the vendor's NAND flash business has suffered from profit erosion reaching nearly break-even point, the sources noted.
Samsung and other major chipmakers have started cutting back their output since late 2018 aiming to stabilize NAND flash prices, but the efforts have hardly worked, as 64-layer 3D NAND process is already a mature technology and the 64-layer 3D NAND flash segment remains oversupplied, the sources said.
Some of the major NAND flash vendors have moved to accelerate their transitions to newer 120/128-layer 3D NAND process technology, the sources said. The move is to enhance their cost structure amid falling NAND flash market prices.
Meanwhile, chipmakers' yield rates for 90/96-layer 3D NAND process technology remain unstable which may bring more variables to the market and prices this year, according to the sources.