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SanDisk warns of NAND flash oversupply

SanDisk warns of NAND flash oversupply

SanDisk has warned investors that it's first-quarter projections were a little over-optimistic, as it faces slower than expected NAND flash demand.

Memory giant SanDisk has warned that falling demand for its flash memory components has led to some financial problems, while rival Toshiba is rumoured to be building a new facility in Japan ahead of a predicted explosion in the market.

SanDisk's financial warning comprises a revision of its first-quarter projections, down from $1.3 billion in January to $1.2 billion. It's a pretty big dip, and one that has analysts and investors worried. In after-market trading following the announcement last night, SanDisk's shares dropped 7 per cent.

The lowered projection comes at a time when the global memory industry is seeing dropping prices, largely due to slowing demand from selected customers and overproduction issues causing a surfeit of components in the channel.

Some manufacturers are still doing well: the explosion of interest in Apple's iPhone and iPad devices, and Samsung's equally well received Galaxy product line, mean increasing shipments - but the remainder of the market is seeing a definite slowdown in global demand.

While Micron president Mark Adams claims that the DRAM pricing slump is at an end, NAND flash markets aren't doing so well. As a result, companies are expected to be tightening their belts over the coming months as they clear inventory of last-generation parts and prepare for a process shrink.

Toshiba, meanwhile, is planning ahead with Japanese business paper Nikkan Kogyo claiming the company is looking to build a new facility in Japan for NAND flash production. The plant, which has not been confirmed by Toshiba itself, would allegedly be coming online in 2013 in order to boost the company's production capacity ahead of predicted demand.

From SanDisk and Toshiba's differing reactions to the current market, it's plain to see that things are in flux. Growing interest in mobile devices, the majority driver of demand in the NAND flash market, is on the one hand promising massive growth; early overproduction and slow growth from anyone who isn't Apple and Samsung, on the other hand, is causing short-term problems.

As NAND flash demand grows in the mobile market, economies of scale should kick in. As a result, NAND-based solid-state drives (SSDs) can be confidently predicted to drop in price in the near future. This will likely only apply to small- to medium-capacity models, however: 64GB is a lot of storage for a smartphone or a tablet, but a budget-level SSD for a laptop or desktop.

19 Comments

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Phil Rhodes 4th April 2012, 16:38 Quote
So what, they experienced a sudden and unprecedented explosion in demand, and their highly-paid and expert financial analysts instantly leapt to the conclusion that good things absolutely always last forever and ever more?

Well, I suppose that's the sort of fairytale gibberish that highly-paid and expert financial analysts normally spout, which is of course why the world economy is in such fantastic shape.
flibblesan 4th April 2012, 16:40 Quote
Woop! Cheap SSDs coming :D
ChaosDefinesOrder 4th April 2012, 16:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by flibblesan
Woop! Cheap SSDs coming :D

Doubtful, will probably mean a new and more expensive controller will be included that will "justify" keeping the prices high.

SSD prices still haven't come down anywhere near quickly enough because they keep retiring the older models and releasing a newer faster model instead!

Just like how electric cars are still unaffordable because the manufacturers spend all their resources on unaffordable electric sports cars to show off at trade shows

/rant

Cheaper SSDs would be nice, though! Maybe they'll start approaching sane prices soon! Maybe...
west 4th April 2012, 16:59 Quote
I think SSDs will go down in price and get faster. cheaper nand chips = more nand chips per SSD = faster storage.
Current controllers can handle more nand chips on mid level SSD (note all the empty nand chip sockets on so many mid-level SSD boards).
Flibblebot 4th April 2012, 17:00 Quote
I don't see what the problem of a "small" 64Gb SSD is - after all, my current Win7 partition is only using around 50Gb, so surely 64Gb is more than enough for most users?

I, for one, would welcome a drop in prices of SSDs to sane levels - and in the long run, this has got to be a better thing for the market?
Gareth Halfacree 4th April 2012, 17:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
I don't see what the problem of a "small" 64Gb SSD is - after all, my current Win7 partition is only using around 50Gb, so surely 64Gb is more than enough for most users?
As a boot drive, possibly; as the only drive in a system - as with the vast majority of laptops - it's too small. I take my laptop to events, and regularly dump my camera's memory card onto the drive. That's a few hundred photos a day, at around 10MB a photo. Then there's video. Oh, and audio recordings of interviews...
RedFlames 4th April 2012, 18:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
I don't see what the problem of a "small" 64Gb SSD is - after all, my current Win7 partition is only using around 50Gb, so surely 64Gb is more than enough for most users?

While I probably don't come under the 'most users' umbrella [and neither would most people on here], if you discount my steam folder [which on it's own wouldn't fit on a 64GB drive] my 'C:' drive is in the region of 75GB, and that's not including the afore-mentioned steam collection, and all the music, videos and work that's kept on an external drive... 120/128GB would be the bare minimum I'd consider if I completely lost my mind and decided to buy an SSD...
mdshann 4th April 2012, 18:47 Quote
SSD prices really should have come down when hard drive prices went up. They really missed an opportunity to get SSDs into a lot of computers by instead raising prices at the same time that traditional drive prices went up.
IvanIvanovich 4th April 2012, 19:51 Quote
Some ssd have been coming down, at least in the US. Models like the ocz petrol 128GB can be had for $100 - $130 from most sources. Granted it is a mid range model, but plenty of performance for most with enough capacity for most as well. I imagine other drives will need to reduce prices as well to be competitive.
mclean007 4th April 2012, 19:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdshann
SSD prices really should have come down when hard drive prices went up. They really missed an opportunity to get SSDs into a lot of computers by instead raising prices at the same time that traditional drive prices went up.
That's economics - as traditional HDD prices increased, the differential between an HDD and an SSD shrank, so SSD uptake picked up. Basic supply and demand tells you that when demand goes up for a product in limited supply, the price has to rise. What we're now seeing is the back end of the same mechanism - manufacturers respond to increased demand by hiking prices and ramping up production. Now the demand spike has receded, there is overcapacity so prices should retreat.
Aragon Speed 5th April 2012, 09:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdshann
SSD prices really should have come down when hard drive prices went up. They really missed an opportunity to get SSDs into a lot of computers by instead raising prices at the same time that traditional drive prices went up.
That's economics - as traditional HDD prices increased, the differential between an HDD and an SSD shrank, so SSD uptake picked up. Basic supply and demand tells you that when demand goes up for a product in limited supply, the price has to rise. What we're now seeing is the back end of the same mechanism - manufacturers respond to increased demand by hiking prices and ramping up production. Now the demand spike has receded, there is overcapacity so prices should retreat.

And that's why you have to be taught economics. You have to unlearn all the common sense and logic you have managed to acquire throughout your life... ^^
Landy_Ed 6th April 2012, 14:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames


While I probably don't come under the 'most users' umbrella [and neither would most people on here], if you discount my steam folder [which on it's own wouldn't fit on a 64GB drive] my 'C:' drive is in the region of 75GB, and that's not include the afore-mentioned steam collection, and all the music, videos and work that's kept on an external drive... 120/128GB would be the bare minimum I'd consider if I completely lost my mind and decided to buy an SSD...
+1
thil 7th April 2012, 19:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
So what, they experienced a sudden and unprecedented explosion in demand, and their highly-paid and expert financial analysts instantly leapt to the conclusion that good things absolutely always last forever and ever more?

Well, I suppose that's the sort of fairytale gibberish that highly-paid and expert financial analysts normally spout, which is of course why the world economy is in such fantastic shape.

Now, now, to be fair to those experts: they were only consultants and their contract was for only a few months...it's obviously not a problem from their end. Anymore.
digitaldunc 7th April 2012, 21:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
I don't see what the problem of a "small" 64Gb SSD is - after all, my current Win7 partition is only using around 50Gb, so surely 64Gb is more than enough for most users?

Not really -- I've just bought a M4 256 as I've found my current M225 128Gb to be limiting -- I want more than half a dozen games and other randomness on my main drive.

Ideally SSDs will be ubiquitous (as I no doubt expect they will be in 5 years or so) and all our storage will be lightning fast.
jimmyjj 8th April 2012, 09:58 Quote
I really want an SSD,

However for me I only want it when I can buy one big enough to fit all my crap on one drive - just like my hard drive is.

My C drive is currently 350 GB, so really I would want a 512GB drive.

I could move some of my TV programmes to a an external drive but I damn sure want my games on my SSD (my Steam folder alone is 180GB and that is just current games).

Otherwise I need another hard drive which is either on my desk, or in my case (obstructing air flow with its extra cables).

Never seen the point of just using an SSD for a boot drive, the only time windows is unresponsive is just after boot up. Give windows a couple of minutes to cache everything and all my programmes start instantly

I want games to load and respond faster - which requires a much bigger drive to pull off and alas I can not afford one.
Flibblebot 8th April 2012, 14:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
As a boot drive, possibly; as the only drive in a system - as with the vast majority of laptops - it's too small.
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitaldunc
Not really -- I've just bought a M4 256 as I've found my current M225 128Gb to be limiting -- I want more than half a dozen games and other randomness on my main drive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyjj
However for me I only want it when I can buy one big enough to fit all my crap on one drive - just like my hard drive is...Never seen the point of just using an SSD for a boot drive, the only time windows is unresponsive is just after boot up. Give windows a couple of minutes to cache everything and all my programmes start instantly
But doesn't using an SSD like a "normal" drive (i.e. lots of moving, deleting & copying) degrade the lifespan of an SSD? I always thought that the limiting factor of SSDs (apart from their hight price) was the limited number of write cycles compared to hard drives? Or does this no longer apply to current SSDs and they have a lifespan comparable to mechanical disks?
Leona74 8th April 2012, 14:07 Quote
Woop! Cheap SSDs coming
digitaldunc 8th April 2012, 21:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
But doesn't using an SSD like a "normal" drive (i.e. lots of moving, deleting & copying) degrade the lifespan of an SSD? I always thought that the limiting factor of SSDs (apart from their hight price) was the limited number of write cycles compared to hard drives? Or does this no longer apply to current SSDs and they have a lifespan comparable to mechanical disks?

Use will obviously degrade the NAND over time but that isn't any reason to minimise the use of your SSD -- it's there to be used, after all.

I can't comment on MTBF figures between HDDs and SSDs without doing some googling but I'd think that the chance of catastrophic failure (head crash, for example) at least is less due to the lack of mechanical parts. In any case, with either storage device it's not a case of *if* but *when* the device will fail.
west 8th April 2012, 22:02 Quote
@Flibblebot
each flash cell can be expected to fail after about 10,000 writes.

Sum it up with a quote from an awesome article:
"7GB of writes per day. That means in roughly 29 days my SSD, if it wear levels perfectly, I will have written to every single available flash block on my drive. Tack on another 7 days if the drive is smart enough to move my static data around to wear level even more properly. So we’re at approximately 36 days before I exhaust one out of my ~10,000 write cycles. Multiply that out and it would take 360,000 days of using my machine the way I have been for the past two weeks for all of my NAND to wear out; once again, assuming perfect wear leveling. That’s 986 years. Your NAND flash cells will actually lose their charge well before that time comes, in about 10 years."

[http://www.anandtech.com/show/2829/6]
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