NAND Flash


2021-10-25

Global Ranking of Top 10 SSD Module Makers for 2020 Shows 15% YoY Drop in Annual Shipment, Says TrendForce

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic led to severe delays in manufacturing and logistics. In particular, governments worldwide began implementing border restrictions in 2Q20 to combat the ongoing health crisis, leading to a sudden decline in order volumes for channel-market SSDs, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Annual shipment of SSDs to the channel (retail) market reached 111.5 million units in 2020, a 15% YoY decrease. In terms of market share by shipment, Kingston, ADATA, and Kimtigo once again occupied the top three spots, respectively.

Looking at the channel market for SSDs as a whole, NAND Flash suppliers (among which Samsung possessed the largest market share) accounted for around 35% of the total shipments in 2020, while SSD module makers accounted for the other 65%. The top 10 module makers accounted for 71% of channel-market SSD shipments from all SSD module makers. Taken together, these figures show that the market remained relatively oligopolistic in 2020. However, it should be noted that TrendForce’s ranking of SSD module makers for 2020 takes account of only products bound for the channel market and under brands owned by the module makers themselves; NAND Flash suppliers were therefore excluded from the top 10 ranking.

As the pandemic eliminated tier-2 and tier-3 suppliers at an increasingly rapid pace, the collective market share of the top 10 module makers continued to rise

Kingston demonstrated the competitive advantage that it derived from having a global strategy while the pandemic took place. The company saw its market share increase by 1% against market headwinds in 2020 and comfortably took the number one spot among the top 10 SSD module makers. At the same time, Kingston sourced its SSD controller ICs from a diverse group of suppliers in order to avoid potential issues with SSD production due to insufficient foundry capacities. By ensuring a stable supply of controller ICs, Kingston will likely raise its market share even further going forward. On the other hand, ADATA had previously shifted the focus of its R&D and manufacturing operations to SSD products. Not only did ADATA release high-end products ahead of most of its competitors, but it also raised its markets share thanks to the increased demand for its gaming products during the pandemic. ADATA took the second spot on the top 10 list.

Kimtigo, ranked third on the list, shifted its focus to mid-range and high-end products due to their relatively high profitability. Furthermore, Kimtigo successfully expanded its market share both overseas and online, in turn taking the number one position in China. In light of China’s policies prioritizing domestic semiconductor production as well as Kimtigo’s ongoing efforts to cultivate a presence in tier-3 and tier-4 cities in China, the company will likely continue to increase its market share going forward. Netac similarly possessed comprehensive sales networks in China and the overseas markets, in addition to having committed to long-term developments in online sales channels. As the pandemic drove up online sales last year, Netac was able to leapfrog to fourth place in the rankings. Likewise, Lexar saw a slight growth in its market share last year due to not only the comprehensive global sales network it had previously developed, but also its gradually maturing manufacturing operations and aftersales customer services.

The COVID-19 pandemic drove up orders for Teclast’s self-branded notebook computers and displays. As a result, Teclast’s shipment of SSDs last year underwent an increase that in turn led to a corresponding increase in its market share. As for Colorful and Galaxy, the two companies primarily focused on the gaming market. Hence, the increase in demand for gaming consoles and high-end notebooks allowed Colorful and Galaxy to enjoy increased visibility in the SSD market. Lenovo’s shipments fell slightly in 2020 because the other competing brands increased their efforts in developing the overseas markets. As a result, its place in the ranking also dropped from 2019. As the ranking indicates, the competition among brands in the Chinese market remained very intense. There is the possibility that the brands’ positions in the ranking will undergo more reshuffling for 2021.

It should be pointed out that TrendForce has noted the participation of additional brands in the SSD module market in recent years. One such brand is Gigabyte, which has registered remarkable performances. Gigabyte grew its shipment of SSD products by more than 30% YoY in 2020 through leveraging its preexisting reputation in the motherboard and graphics card markets. Although Gigabyte has yet to enter the top 10 list at the moment, it will likely do so within the coming years thanks to its comprehensive global sales network and the growing visibility of its SSD products.

Rise of YMTC strengthens China’s domestic NAND Flash production, and Chinese SSD manufacturers are gradually gaining a brand advantage

As the trend of the localization of semiconductor manufacturing comes to the forefront of the Chinese memory market, YMTC is carrying out a massive capacity expansion plan. In terms of layer technology, YMTC is steadily advancing to 128L and catching up to the major NAND Flash suppliers. Among Chinese SSD brands, Biwin secured financial support from the China IC Industry Investment Fund (the Big Fund) this September; it is now expanding the production capacity of its plant in Huizhou. Besides this, Biwin has also acquired sufficient product development capability to meet clients’ demand for customized products and services. The company is therefore expected to experience a wave of growth in the future.

Turning to Taiwan-based SSD brands, Liteon’s shipments of branded SSDs have slowed down significantly after the company was fully incorporated into Kioxia in July 2020. Due to certain considerations pertaining to the allocation of internal resources, Kioxia will assign the Liteon SSD team to support the development of SSDs for PC OEMs. In the future, Kioxia’s focus will not be on brand development. As for other Taiwan-based SSD brands, they will unlikely return to the top 10 ranking because they have not been able to catch up to the brands based in Mainland China with respect to the economies of scale. TrendForce believes that Taiwan-based brands will continue to be on the decline.

PCIe G4 SSDs become new main offerings, and module makers have adopted QLC solutions

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to a significant increase in the average memory density of SSDs this year. With 512GB becoming the mainstream capacity size, the cost advantage of QLC will become increasingly recognizable. Hence, module makers will be introducing QLC products into their SSD offerings. In the aspect of interface technologies, the proportion of SATA in the retail SSD market has been declining over the years, and module makers are switching to PCIe for their new products. TrendForce’s research finds that PCIe products accounted for almost 30% of retail SSDs shipped in 2020. With shipments of PCIe G4 SSDs expected to grow rapidly in the future, module makers will assign PCIe as the mainstream interface for new products.

Also, an increasing number of Chinese IC design houses are now involved in the development of SSD controller ICs. This, in turn, has led to more PCIe G4 SSD controllers entering mass production. As China pursues the localization of semiconductor manufacturing, module makers will be tested to develop suitable solutions that can maintain growth in the Chinese market.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-10-20

NAND Flash Prices Projected to Enter Cyclical Downturn in 2022 Due to Modest Demand Growth and Competition for Higher-Layer NAND, Says TrendForce

Contract prices of NAND Flash products are expected to undergo a marginal drop of 0-5% QoQ in 4Q21 as demand slows, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Hence, the current cyclical upturn in NAND Flash prices will have lasted for only two consecutive quarters. Looking ahead, NAND Flash suppliers’ capacity expansion plans will be affected by the outlook on future trends and the supply of other non-memory components. At the same time, attention will have to be paid to the demand projection. At the moment, NAND Flash suppliers appear likely to downsize their capacity expansion activities for 2022, resulting in a 31.8% YoY increase in NAND Flash bit supply next year. Annual bit demand, on the other hand, is projected to increase by 30.8% YoY. With demand being outpaced by supply and competition intensifying among suppliers for higher-layer products, the NAND Flash market will likely experience a cyclical downturn in prices in 2022.

YoY Growth of bit supply for 2022 is projected to reach 31.8% as competition for higher-layer NAND Flash remains fierce

With demand surging for a significant part of this year, customers have accelerated their adoption of higher-layer NAND technologies. Suppliers have also revised their production plans several times so as to raise output, reaching a YoY growth of nearly 40% in total NAND Flash bit supply in 2021. In light of the somewhat high base for comparison and the relatively weak demand outlook next year, TrendForce expects annual NAND Flash bit supply to increase by only about 31.8% YoY in 2022.

NAND Flash bit demand will grow by just 30.8% due to high base for comparison and factors related to arrival of post-pandemic era

The analysis of the demand side of the NAND Flash market finds that the shipment volumes of smartphones, notebook computers, and servers have been undergoing robust growths in 2021, resulting in a relatively high base period for comparison against next year’s figures. Hence, substantial YoY increases in device production or shipment in 2022 will be difficult. In addition, the procurement side still suffers from mismatched availability of components. With NAND Flash supply being relatively healthy and device manufacturers carrying a growing NAND Flash inventory, NAND Flash procurement for the upcoming period will likely be limited. TrendForce expects NAND Flash bit demand to increase by 30.8% YoY in 2022, which represents a slower growth compared with the increase in NAND Flash bit supply.

Regarding the smartphone market, the persistent shortage of components, including chipsets and driver ICs, is expected to exacerbate the decline in smartphone shipment during the traditional off-season of the first quarter. As for the average storage capacity of handsets, one driver of growth is the iPhone series, which is adopting a 1TB solution for the first time with this year’s line-up (i.e., iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max). This will encourage brands in the Android camp to follow suit and have a 1TB solution featured in the future flagship models that are released in 2022, thus slightly increasing the shipment share of high-density solutions. Furthermore, brands in the Android camp will be focusing on pushing models with 256GB or 512GB in response to Apple’s storage upgrade for this year’s iPhone lineup. TrendForce forecasts that the NAND Flash bit demand related to smartphones will rise by around 28.5% YoY in 2022, which is noticeably lower than the growth rates that approached almost 30% for the years prior to 2021.

Regarding the notebook market, orders for notebook computers will enter a period of downward correction in 2022 compared to the peak growth that took place in 2021 as increasingly widespread vaccinations lead to a gradual easing of border restrictions. Although the workforce’s return to physical offices has now generated some upside demand for commercial notebooks, the demand for consumer notebooks and Chromebooks, which are highly contingent on the education sector, will undergo a sharp decline. Taking these factors into account, TrendForce forecasts a modest 23.2% YoY growth in client SSD bit demand in 2022, which falls short of the growth in 2021 by a considerable margin.

Regarding the server market, CSPs’ continued procurement of servers in 2022 is expected to drive up annual server shipment by about 4.5% YoY. In particular, the average storage capacity of enterprise SSDs is expected to experience a more significant growth next year compared to previous years due to the gradual release of new server CPU platforms with PCIe Gen 4 support, which features more PCIe lanes allocated to SSD data transfer. These new CPUs will also come with substantial upgrades in terms of both core count and processing power. Adoption of large-capacity enterprise SSDs enables servers equipped with such CPUs to achieve improved computing performance and in turn allows CSPs to cut down on the number of server nodes required, thereby optimizing the cost of data center build-out. In terms of applications, computing demand from AI and big data will continue growing, and this growth will also contribute to the increase in the average storage capacity of enterprise SSDs next year. In addition to the aforementioned developments, the release of Intel’s Sapphire Rapids platform, which supports PCIe Gen 5, will bring about a further bump in enterprise SSD data transfer speed, as well as average storage capacity, which is expected to increase by 33.5% YoY in 2022.

Annual NAND Flash revenue is projected to increase by merely 7% YoY in 2022 while falling quotes offset growth in bit shipment

NAND Flash ASPs have not shown significant downturns for two consecutive years since 2020. At the same time, as the COVID-19 pandemic drives up the demand for electronic products and cloud services, the overall growth in NAND Flash bit demand has been remarkable, resulting in an annual NAND Flash revenue growth of more than 20% YoY in both 2020 and 2021. Looking ahead to 2022, the YoY increase in NAND Flash bit demand will diminish due to the high base for comparison this year. The NAND Flash market is projected to enter a period of price downturn, with an over 18% decline in NAND Flash ASP. While such a decline offsets the rise in bit shipment, annual NAND Flash revenue will likely increase by merely 7% in 2022, the lowest YoY growth in three years.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-09-23

NAND Flash Market Will See Falling Quotes and 0-5% QoQ Declines in Contract Prices for 4Q21, Says TrendForce

The latest analysis of the NAND Flash market from TrendForce finds that shipments have been below expectations for consumer electronics such as smartphones, Chromebooks, and TVs during this second half of the year. At the same time, demand remains sluggish for retail storage products including memory cards and USB drives. Data centers and enterprise servers represent the only applications that show relatively strong demand. With the inventory level of the demand side steadily rising, the procurement momentum of NAND Flash buyers will become more constrained going forward. The gradual weakening of demand is also relieving the shortage of NAND Flash controller ICs. Taking account of these factors, TrendForce forecasts that quotes for NAND Flash products will begin to fall in 4Q21, and NAND Flash contract prices will register QoQ declines of 0-5% for that period.

For 4Q21, Contract Prices of Client SSDs Will Drop by 3-8% QoQ, Whereas Contract Prices of Enterprise SSDs Will Rise Slightly by 0-5% QoQ

Countries in North America and Europe are gradually lifting COVID-19 restrictions as their vaccination rates rise. Consequently, schools and businesses in those countries have also reopened and resumed normal operation. Due to this development, the demand for Chromebooks, which are mainly purchased by academic institutions, has started to slide rapidly. The demand for consumer notebook (laptop) computers has slowed down as well. Among different types of notebook computers, only commercial models continue to experience growing demand. On the side of device manufacturers, the shortages of other types of non-memory ICs are disrupting the operations of ODMs. In particular, the prolonged nationwide lockdown in Malaysia has aggravated the undersupply situation for PMICs. This problem not only impacts the production of PCs and notebook computers but also affects the product assembly capacity of some SSD suppliers.

Additionally, NAND Flash suppliers are rapidly raising production capacity for NAND Flash products that are 128 or higher in layer count. As a result, supply is gradually outpacing demand for SSDs. TrendForce believes that suppliers will become increasingly proactive in pricing in order to raise the consumption of their production output by customers and thus prevent excess inventory. Hence, contract prices of client SSDs are forecasted to make a downward turn in 4Q21 and register QoQ declines of 3-8%.

Regarding enterprise SSDs, customers in the data center segment have raised the volumes of their orders for two quarters straight, and their inventories have been climbing steadily as well. Therefore, the demand for enterprise SSDs will start to weaken in 4Q21. The procurement of enterprise SSDs by server OEMs will continue to be sustained by server shipments to medium and small enterprises in 4Q21. However, the total server shipments for the same period will be impacted by the ongoing IC shortage. Server shipments are forecasted to drop by nearly 9% QoQ for 4Q21, and the demand bits related to enterprise SSDs will also fall by 7% QoQ for the same period.

Turning to the supply side of the enterprise SSD market, lead time has been prolonged for the enterprise SSD controller ICs from Intel because Intel’s main base for packaging and testing this kind of chip is located in Malaysia, which is now a COVID-19 hotspot. The situation is not expected to improve in 4Q21, so bit shipments of enterprise SSDs from Intel will shrink from 3Q21. Since Intel’s market share for enterprise SSDs is fairly large, the effect of the recent COVID-19 outbreaks in Malaysia on contract prices of enterprise SSDs will be significant. TrendForce currently forecasts that contract prices of enterprise SSDs will rise by 0-5% QoQ for 4Q21. The hike will be mainly caused by the lack of components on the supply side rather than an increase in demand.

5-10% Reduction Projected for eMMC Prices amidst Significant Drop of End Demand

The demand for major consumer products, such as TVs and tablets, has started to weaken after the conclusion of the traditional peak season of stocking, as well as the gradual withdrawal of subsidization policy from the US. The continuous elevation of the vaccination rate in European and American countries, followed by a progressive mitigation of lockdown measures in various countries and successive resumption of school operations, have yielded an apparent impact to the demand for notebooks and tablets related to education purposes, while the aggravated stocking from the buyers during 1H21 in fear of shortages in NAND Flash controller IC has increased the inventory level and further suppressed eMMC orders. Despite stable capacity for low density 2D MLC NAND, as well as confined supply of NAND Flash controller due to the full load capacity of 28/40nm processes from foundries, the prices have been deprived of support owing to the sizable depletion in end demand, where a prominent decrement of 5-10% is expected for relevant products during 4Q21 after the substantial increase in 2Q21.

0-5% Reduction Projected for UFS Prices amidst Enhanced Supply and Diminished Demand

TrendForce has downward revised the projections to the annual production of smartphones under the fluctuating COVID-19 pandemic status in Southeast Asia. In addition, the stocking demand for new iPhones and flagships of various brands will gradually decelerate upon entering 4Q21, while the peak season of stocking is soon to be transitioned to the imminent off season. Purchase dynamics of UFS are expected to further subside. Regarding supply, mobile clients are currently using similar layers in products to that of PC OEMs after the spontaneous incorporation of 1xxL by different brands during 1Q21, and the provision of products with higher layers is expected to amplify under PC products’ expansion of market satisfaction and the unmitigated component gaps of ODMs. UFS quotations are estimated to deteriorate by 0-5% in 4Q21 under enhanced supply and diminished demand.

NAND Flash Wafer Prices to Sustain the Largest Quarterly Decrease of 10-15% amidst Subsided Demand for Major Applications

The demand performance for retail end products has been sluggish since the beginning of 2021 aside from the temporal nourishment from the related demand for a storage-based cryptocurrency (Chia) between April and May. Memory cards and USB flash drives have been sluggish in sales since 2Q21 due to the successive exacerbation of the pandemic status in India and Southeast Asia, and the sales of retail SSD from channels have been impeded owing to the shortages of graphics cards, which obstructs the bundling with assembled computers. The fluctuation of cryptocurrency prices, for which the plummeting had slightly improved the shortages of graphics cards at one time, has triggered another recovery in the demand for mining, and further inhibits the sales volume of SSD. It is worth noting that the diverted tendency between end products and upstream components has manifested considerable pressure to module houses.

Pressure from the sales of NAND Flash wafer inventory is expected to gradually magnify for suppliers under the worse-than-expected demand for products such as notebooks, smartphones, and TVs. Few suppliers have signaled their willingness in active provision during 4Q21, though the continuously enlarging void of PMIC has instead entangled the shipment of finished enterprise SSD, which intensifies the sales pressure of NAND Flash wafer. Furthermore, YMTC, WDC, and Micron have initiated an active supply of 128, 112, and 176L product samples to module houses for testing and incorporation. The incorporation of higher layers will further refine shipment cost that will obtain additional room in price reduction for suppliers. 3D NAND wafer is expected to sustain the largest depletion among all product categories at 10-15% during 4Q21.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-08-26

NAND Flash Revenue for 2Q21 Rises by 10.8% QoQ Due to Strong Notebook Demand and Procurements for Data Centers, Says TrendForce

NAND Flash suppliers’ Clients in the data center segment were gradually stepping up enterprise SSD procurement after finishing inventory adjustments, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Moreover, the adoption rate of 4/8TB products in the enterprise SSD market increased substantially on account of the releases and adoption of the new server processor platforms from Intel and AMD. Although the recent wave of COVID-19 outbreaks that struck Southeast Asia weakened smartphone sales in 2Q21, the quarterly total NAND Flash bit shipments rose by nearly 9% QoQ, as PC OEMs still had plenty of component orders in 2Q21 due to the fairly robust notebook demand during the period. On the other hand, the shortage of controller ICs became more severe during the period, and the winter storm that battered Texas this February affected the operation of Samsung’s foundry fab Line S2 in Austin. As demand for NAND Flash products rose, the overall ASP also rose by nearly 7% QoQ, and the quarterly total NAND Flash revenue rose by 10.8% QoQ to US$16.4 billion in 2Q21.

Moving into 3Q21, clients in the data center segment will gradually become the main growth driver as they expand procurement of high-density enterprise SSDs. Furthermore, notebook demand is expected to remain at a fairly high level in 3Q21, thereby sustaining NAND Flash demand bit growth and the ongoing rise in contract prices of NAND Flash products. Hence, TrendForce currently forecasts that the quarterly total NAND Flash revenue will not only again register a QoQ increase but also hit a record high for 3Q21.

Samsung

For 2Q21, Samsung’s bit shipments grew by around 8% QoQ thanks to the strong demand from PC OEMs and hyperscalers aggressively building up their enterprise SSD inventories. The energetic stock-up activities and the shortage of controller ICs also caused Samsung’s ASP to rise by about 5% QoQ. As a result, Samsung’s NAND Flash revenue went up by 12.5% QoQ to US$5.59 billion in 2Q21.

SK hynix

Smartphone storage solutions account for the largest portion of SK hynix’s sales mix. Nevertheless, SK hynix’s sales performance during 2Q21 still benefitted from hyperscalers’ rising demand and the brisk flow of orders related to notebooks. Hence, SK hynix grew its bit shipments by 3% QoQ. Its ASP also rose by about 8% QoQ because of the general tightening of NAND Flash supply and the shortage of controller ICs. All in all, SK hynix’s NAND Flash revenue went up by 10.8% QoQ to US$2.025 billion for 2Q21.

Kioxia

Kioxia benefitted from strong notebook demand and resurging procurement activities from its enterprise clients in 2Q21. In addition, Kioxia’s major clients in the smartphone segment once again kicked off their NAND Flash procurement during the quarter. As a result, Kioxia’s bit shipment grew by about 7% QoQ in 2Q21, while its ASP entered an upward trajectory for the first time in four quarters with a QoQ growth of more than 10%. However, in light of the trailing performance of its SSSTC subsidiary (formerly Liteon’s SSD business) as well as the impact of unfavorable exchange rates, Kioxia’s revenue for 2Q21, when converted into USD, reached a mere US$3.011 billion, an 8.5% QoQ increase.

Western Digital (WDC)

Western Digital put up a remarkable revenue performance for 2Q21 thanks to robust demand from the notebook segment, an upswing in enterprise SSD demand, and the shipment of its second-gen NVMe enterprise SSD, which resulted in a 39% QoQ increase in Western Digital’s enterprise SSD revenue. On the other hand, while products related to Chia cryptocurrency mining gained significant media spotlight at the end of April, they made limited contributions to Western Digital’s quarterly bit shipment, which underwent a mere 4% QoQ increase in 2Q21, though its ASP increased by 7% QoQ. All in all, Western Digital’s NAND Flash revenue reached US$2.419 billion, an 11.2% QoQ increase, in 2Q21.

Micron

Owing to strong demand from the data center and notebook segments, Micron grew its quarterly bit shipment by nearly 7% in 2Q21. In particular, Micron’s QLC client SSDs enjoyed a growing penetration rate in the PC segment. With the shortage in the SSD market leading to a 3% QoQ increase in Micron’s ASP for 2Q21, its NAND Flash revenue reached US$1.812 billion, a 9.8% QoQ increase.

Intel

Intel’s quarterly bit shipment for 2Q21 underwent a near 10% QoQ decline in spite of strong enterprise SSD demand from the data center segment. This decline can primarily be attributed to the shortage of such key components as controller ICs and PMICs. Compared to other major NAND Flash suppliers, Intel mainly procures some of these components from a single source, thereby exacerbating the impact of the component shortage on its operations, including the shipment of enterprise SSDs. Nevertheless, its ASP still grew by about 9% QoQ on the back of persistently strong demand from clients. Intel’s quarterly revenue from its NAND Flash business reached US$1.098 billion, a 0.8% QoQ decline, in 2Q21.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-07-14

NAND Flash Contract Prices Likely to Increase by 5-10% QoQ in 3Q21 as Quotes Continue to Rise, Says TrendForce

The recent wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in India has weakened sales of retail storage products such as memory cards and USB drives, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, demand remains fairly strong in the main application segments due to the arrival of the traditional peak season and the growth in the procurement related to data centers. Hence, the sufficiency ratio of the entire market has declined further. NAND Flash suppliers have kept their inventories at a healthy level thanks to clients’ stock-up activities during the past several quarters. Moreover, the ongoing shortage of NAND Flash controller ICs continues to affect the production of finished storage products. Taking account of these demand-side and supply-side factors, TrendForce forecasts that contract prices of NAND Flash products will rise marginally for 3Q21, with QoQ increases in the range of 5-10%.

NAND Flash suppliers’ push for higher-layered SSD products will likely limit the growth of client SSD contract prices in 3Q21

Several developments are expected to drive up client SSD demand in 3Q21. First of all, high demand for notebook computers at the moment has prompted notebook brands to maximize their production. Furthermore, the release of CPUs based on Intel’s new Ice Lake platform is pushing up the SSD adoption rate. At the same time, the average memory density of SSDs is increasing as NAND Flash suppliers experience tightening supply of SSD controller ICs. On the supply side, as server shipments regain their former momentum and thereby significantly expand enterprise SSD procurement, the supply of NAND Flash will likely further tighten as a result, with NAND Flash suppliers now less willing to lower their prices when negotiating quarterly contracts. On the other hand, NAND Flash suppliers also launched SSDs with higher-layered NAND Flash in 2Q21 in order to capture market share. For instance, their main offerings have rapidly transitioned to 128L NAND Flash. As suppliers raise production capacity for higher-layered products, the downward pressure on contract prices also becomes greater. Hence, TrendForce forecasts that contract prices of client SSDs will rise by around 3-8% QoQ for 3Q21, showing a more moderate increase compared with 2Q21.

Average contract prices of enterprise SSDs are expected to increase by 15% QoQ in view of price hikes across two consecutive quarters

Stock-up activities for enterprise SSDs rebounded in the data center segment in 2Q21 after nearly three quarters of inventory adjustments. The overall server procurement has also been growing over the quarters as government agencies and SMBs release tenders related to digital infrastructure. Moreover, TrendForce has observed that the market release of server CPUs based on Intel’s new Ice Lake platform has led to an increase in the procurement capacity for enterprise SSDs. Quotes for enterprise SSDs are expected to rise again for 3Q21 contracts. NAND Flash suppliers are carrying just around 4-5 weeks of inventory and face short supply for other types of semiconductor components. At the same time, server shipments are climbing. These factors will raise quotes for the second consecutive quarter. It should be noted that, among suppliers, Samsung has more flexibility in supplying SSDs due to having a higher share of in-house components for this category of storage product. Therefore, Samsung will be dominant in influencing price negotiations over enterprise SSD contracts for 3Q21. In particular, the average contract prices of PCIe 4/8TB SSDs are expected to undergo a 15% QoQ increase in 3Q21, representing the largest price hike among all NAND Flash products for the quarter.

Contract prices of eMMC products are projected to rise by a modest 0-5% as low-density eMMC prices remain high

With regards to eMMC products, the demand for consumer products such as TVs and tablets will grow further in 3Q21 because of the effect of the traditional peak season. Additionally, sales of Chromebook devices are still fairly robust. Hence, the demand for eMMC products will remain strong through 3Q21. Nonetheless, the shortage of NAND Flash controller ICs persists as foundries are still operating at a fully-loaded capacity. Furthermore, eMMC production relies on older process technologies. Therefore, low- and medium-density eMMC products are still in limited supply, and contract prices for this category of storage products are expected to keep climbing. It should be pointed out that low-density eMMC products already underwent a considerable price hike that bordered on what the purchasing side considered unacceptable in 2Q21, so the room for further price hikes is limited. TrendForce projects that contract prices of eMMC products will rise by 0-5% QoQ for 3Q21.

Weaker than expected demand for smartphones portends a slight QoQ increase of 0-5% in UFS prices

The recent spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Southeast Asia has led several smartphone brands (including OPPO, Vivo, and Xiaomi) that manufacture and sell a considerable share of smartphones there to lower their annual production targets. On the other hand, Apple is stocking up on components as it prepares for the release of the next iPhone series. The iPhone-related demand, together with the traditional peak season for retailers in the second half of the year, will sustain the overall smartphone production and the demand for mobile storage, including UFS products. NAND Flash suppliers have shifted their attention to the demand related to data centers and enterprise servers. Their inventories are also at a relatively low level due to the strong growth in the procurement of enterprise SSDs. Additionally, there is the ongoing shortage of controller ICs. Hence, contract prices of UFS products are forecasted to rise again by 0-5% QoQ for 3Q21.

Limited supply will likely lead to an 8-13% QoQ increase in NAND Flash wafer prices

The mining of Chia has been pushing up the demand for high-performance and high-capacity SSDs (i.e., channel-market products) since the second half of April, although the effect of the recent cryptocurrency craze has also been gradually waning. Secondly, the latest wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in India has noticeably impacted domestic sales of memory cards and USB drives. In addition, the demand for channel-market SSDs from the DIY PC market has been constrained as the ongoing shortage of graphics cards affects the production of customized PCs. Finally, memory module houses are unable to increase NAND Flash procurement as well because of the undersupply of controller ICs. The demand for NAND Flash wafers from module houses will become more limited due to the impact of component gaps on the production of finished storage products.

NAND Flash suppliers are giving priority to the demand related to data centers and enterprise servers. Furthermore, NAND Flash bit consumption has increased significantly because the share of 4/8TB products in shipments of enterprise SSDs is growing rapidly. Additionally, NAND Flash suppliers are maintaining a low level of inventory as the demand situation is healthy in the major application segments such as notebooks and smartphones. Owing to these factors, NAND Flash suppliers have no inclination to expand the supply of NAND Flash wafers. Even if demand starts to weaken, suppliers will continue to raise contract prices of NAND Flash wafers on a monthly basis for the sake of extending their gross margins. TrendForce therefore projects that contract prices of NAND Flash wafers will rise by 8-13% QoQ for 3Q21.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

  • Page 3
  • 4 page(s)
  • 20 result(s)